Protecting Yourself and Our Community from the Flu

December 19, 2019

Protecting Yourself and Our Community from the Flu

The autumn season has finally taken up residence, bringing some relief from the summer heat, along with its beautiful colors and seasonal traditions. Unfortunately, autumn also means that flu season is arriving – a period which usually peaks between December and February but can last as late as May. The influenza virus can cause mild to severe illness and can even lead to death in certain situations.  The flu doesn’t play favorites – anyone can catch it – but individuals with a greater risk of developing flu-related complications include children younger than five years old, adults 65 and older, pregnant women, women up to two weeks postpartum, residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, American Indians and Alaska Natives, and those with certain medical conditions like asthma, heart disease and blood disorders.

At Western Plains Medical Complex, our mission is Making Communities Healthier, and one of the most important ways we do that is by ensuring that our fellow community members stay informed on how to be healthy and fight preventable diseases, like the flu. We want to do everything we can to prevent the spread of this often debilitating illness. Fortunately, there are a few simple things you can do to protect yourself, your family and our community, prevent the disease from spreading, and speed up your recovery, in case you do fall ill.

Firstly – and most importantly – get vaccinated. Flu vaccination is the best protection from the flu virus. While it is still possible to contract the flu after getting vaccinated, it is much less likely; and should you get sick, studies show that flu vaccinations can make your illness less severe. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends annual flu vaccination for everyone six months and older, with any age-appropriate flu vaccine. If you are considering a nasal spray flu vaccine, it is important to know that this option is approved by the CDC for use in non-pregnant individuals, ages two through 49, and that there is a precaution against this option for those with certain underlying medical conditions. You should have a talk with your healthcare provider regarding what flu vaccination method works best for you.

You can visit the Public Health Department, a walk-in clinic or pharmacy, or your primary care provider’s office to receive a flu vaccination. If you don’t have a provider, we can get you connected with one so that you can get your vaccination completed. Visit our website and browse our Find a Doctor/Provider tab, or call 1-800-424-DOCS. Flu vaccines can take approximately two weeks to become fully effective, so you should plan to receive your flu vaccine before flu activity begins in your area, if possible. A good rule of thumb is to get vaccinated by the end of October.

In addition to getting vaccinated, there are several other key actions you can take to protect yourself and your family, and help prevent the spread of flu and other infections during flu season and year-round, including: