(Press Release) State health officials are reminding people to get their annual influenza vaccine because flu season has already started and is expected to worsen. Flu season for Wisconsin generally runs from late October to May, with peak activity around early February.
“Getting vaccinated is the most effective way to avoid getting the flu,” said Dr. Henry Anderson, State Health Officer. Most health care providers are already offering flu vaccines, making this a good time to get immunized ahead of the expected increase in case numbers, he noted.
Influenza is a contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus. The flu vaccine helps prevent complications that can be caused by the flu, such as pneumonia or hospitalization. With few exceptions, officials recommend that individuals aged six months and older be immunized. Getting vaccinated against influenza is especially important for people aged 50 and older, and those with underlying health conditions. It is equally important for those who have frequent contact with young children to get vaccinated, as children are hospitalized or die from flu complications each year in the U.S.
Influenza can range from mild to severe, and in some cases can cause life-threatening complications. Symptoms can come on quickly and include fever, headache, dry cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, body aches and tiredness.
To protect yourself and those around you from getting the flu, officials suggest taking the following steps:
• Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
• Stay home when you are sick.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with your upper sleeve, and try to avoid touching your face with your hand. If you use a tissue, throw it away after one use.
• Use your own drinking cups and straws.
• Avoid being exposed to people who are sick with flu-like symptoms.
• Eat nutritious meals, get plenty of rest and do not smoke.
• Frequently clean commonly touched surfaces (e.g., door knobs, refrigerator handle, telephone, faucets).
If you think you have the flu, stay home, get rest, drink plenty of liquids and avoid using alcohol and tobacco. If your symptoms persist, contact your doctor.