Each year, thousands of people in the United States die from influenza (flu) and many more are hospitalized.
Posted on 11/2/13
By Lee Coleman
Flu is a contagious disease that spreads across the country every year, usually starting in October and lasting until April or May.
Some people get much sicker from the flu than others. These people include young children, people 65 or older, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions such as heart, lungs, kidneys or a weakened immune system.
Last year, the Cavalier County Public Health department administered 1,675 flu shots including nearly 500 children.
This year, early reports indicate the flu season has begun and so far, Terri Gustafson, county RN administrator, and her staff have immunized 935 adults and 305 kids.
It’s not too late to get the shot, but if it’s put off, the likelihood of getting the flu increases proportionally.
“We’ve had some very good numbers coming in this year,” Gustafson, now in her 25 year, said. “We’ve done a lot of work site flu shots and offered them to staffs and students at all the schools with some very good results.
“The earlier a person is vaccinated, the better it will protect you through the whole season.”
According to Gustafson, the flu shot not only protects you but also the people around you that need protecting including kids under six months old, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems.
The flu shot is recommended for kids over six months old because typically, the flu starts with kids and begins to spread.
“The flu shot is not 100 percent effective against all flu,” Gustafson explained. “But even if it is 60 or 70 percent effective and you get one of the viruses in the vaccine, you’ll be protected against it or have a lesser illness.
“Depending on the vaccine, you are only protected against three or four viruses in the vaccine.
“Those viruses are more respiratory with body achiness, cough, chills and fever that can last several days to a week or more.”
It is important to note that stomach flu and many other illnesses are still out there but if the flu is caught in the early stages, there are anti-viral medications available to lessen the duration of the flu.
“Most people have to be their own judges if they need to see a medical provider,” Gustafson said. “Usually it is the duration you’re ill and how ill you are.
“You should stay home and not be out if you are ill, particularly if you have a fever with a cough and cold symptoms.”
The flu shot can certainly help but an ounce of prevention can go a long way during the flu season.
The top tip for all people is to frequently wash your hands with soap and then thoroughly dry them. Secondly, stay home if you start feeling ill and try to stay out of places where large groups of people congregate if there is a lot of flu going around.
Perhaps the best tip, but by far the hardest, is to not touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your hands because that is how the majority of flu is transmitted.
“You have to be mentally aware of touching your face,” Gustafson added. “Coughing or sneezing into your elbow area or a tissue can also help.”
Langdon resident Francis Reidhammer, 78, swears by the flu shot.
“I’ve been getting a shot for years,” he said. “It has really made a difference.”
The cost of a flu shot is $32 and for more information on flu shot days at the Public Health Department, call 701-256-2402.
An ounce of prevention can help eliminate a winter of agony.