NEWS | Oct. 7, 2014

Prevention is Key! Get Your Flu Shot Now!

By Public Health Flight 628th Aero Medical Squadron

It is almost that time of year again, early trips to the bus stop, football, school supply shopping and the dreaded flu season!

Sure, everyone would love to be able to sit at home and catch up on a marathon of reality television, but as anyone who has ever had the flu can tell you, it isn't all bon-bons and relaxing. Fever, chills, joint pain and body aches are all symptoms that help run you down and ultimately can affect the mission due to lost man hours.

Seasonal flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that generally hits the United States around September and runs through April, with a peak seen in or around February. The flu can cause mild to severe illness and in some severe cases, death. Flu viruses are in constant change and vary from year to year.

The flu virus is commonly transmitted through the air via droplets produced by coughing, sneezing and talking. These droplets can land in the mouths and noses of people nearby, or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. A person might also get the flu by touching a surface or object that has the flu virus on it and then touching their mouth and nose. Avoiding direct contact with symptomatic people and frequent hand washing are two of the best ways to prevent infection. Getting plenty of sleep, exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet helps to strengthen your immune system and also reduce your chances of infection.

The best way to prevent getting the flu is getting the flu shot, which is available now for active-duty service members and pediatric patients six months to 35 months at the Immunizations Clinic at the 628th Medical Group on Joint Base Charleston.

The flu vaccine helps your body develop antibodies to protect you from the various types of viruses that may circulate in the population throughout the season. The Center for Disease Control recommends everyone ages 6-months and older get a flu vaccine yearly. If you are active duty, you don't have a choice; it is required under your Individual Medical Readiness status.

Preventing the flu in your family is up to you. Do everything you can to avoid contracting and transmitting the virus. Remember, the most effective way to do this is through receiving the flu vaccine, but don't dismiss the other precautionary measures you have heard about for years such as frequent hand washing and sneezing or coughing into your elbow. Your grandmother may have known what she was talking about after all.

For further information about influenza, the Centers for Disease Control provides excellent resources at www.cdc.gov/flu.