You can prepare for an influenza pandemic now. You should know both the magnitude of what can happen during a pandemic outbreak and what actions you can take to help lessen the impact of an influenza pandemic on you and your family. The following checklist will help you gather the information and resources you may need in case of a flu pandemic.
The flu (influenza) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness in all ages, and can lead to hospitalization and death. It is important to know that you can pass the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Healthy adults are able to infect others before they appear sick and up to 5-7 days after becoming sick. Flu is spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze, or talk. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, eyes, or nose.
The symptoms of flu are fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, and severe tiredness. People may be infected with the flu and have respiratory symptoms without fever.
The CDC recommends three actions to protect yourself and others from the flu:
- Get a flu vaccine (shot or nasal mist): A yearly flu shot is the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses. Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine as soon as this season’s vaccine are available. If people are high risk for flu complications such as young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes, or heart and lung disease and people 65 or older, vaccinations are especially important.
There are some myths surrounding the flu vaccine:
- “The flu shot makes me sick”- The flu shot does not contain live virus so it is impossible to get the flu from the vaccine. Side effects may occur in some people such as mild soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site, headache, or a low-grade fever. The nasal mist has live, weakened (attenuated) viruses that can cause mild signs and symptoms such runny nose, fever, sore throat, and nasal congestion. The vaccine, however, cannot cause influenza infection in the lower respiratory tract.
- “I’m healthy and don’t need a flu vaccine.”- Anyone can get sick from the flu and, in the last few years, young, healthy adults have been the hardest hit. Even if you only had a mild case, you might be around someone who is at high risk such as a baby under 6 months or an elderly person.
- Take every day preventative actions to stop the spread of germs: Try to avoid close contact with sick people. If you are sick with a flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or cough into your elbow. Wash your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose. Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.
- Take flu antiviral drugs as your doctor prescribes them: Antiviral drugs can make the illness milder and shorten the time that you are sick.
Flu Vaccine Locations
- Your Physician's office
- Local Pharmacies
- St. Thomas More Hospital - for patients, volunteers, and employees
- For additional information about flu vaccine clinics, please call (719) 276-7450
“If we could do one thing to prevent 36,000 deaths and help decrease 200,000 hospitalizations annually, what would it be? Get a flu shot.” - Rick Miklich, Fremont County Department of Public Health & Environment Director