Preventing Influenza

Every year hundreds of Virginians die from Influenza.  Protect yourself and those you love!

  1. Get a flu shot.  Every year.  No, you CAN'T get flu from the shot.

Most insurance programs, including Medicare and Medicaid cover influenza vaccine without any co-pay. With health insurance you can go into any pharmacy (like Walgreens or Rite Aid) or any store with a pharmacy (like Walmart or Kroger) without an appointment and get the shot in a few minutes.  The Chesapeake Health Department (748 N. Battlefield Blvd.) provides influenza vaccines for free to children up to 18, and they also will give adults a flu shot for a small fee.  You can call (757)382-8609 for more information.  Getting a flu shot is very important if you have chronic illness or if you are around young children, the elderly or people with chronic illness such as Diabetes or Emphysema.

  1. Wash or sanitize your hands.

Carry a pocket-size hand sanitizer for use after touching public surfaces like door knobs or shaking hands.  Consider the new elbow handshake method.

  1. Avoid exposure…or exposing others.

Consider routine mask wear outside your home during Flu season, especially if you suspect you might have been exposed or are ill, or if your family includes anyone with immunocompromise.  Avoid close contact with anyone appearing ill and consider masking both the ill person and those who need to be within about 6 feet.  Cough into your elbow, not your hands. Use disposable tissues.  Wash or sanitize your hands.  See your doctor for an influenza test and possible medication if you have a fever or feel ill, then stay away from other people until the fever is gone and you have been on medicine at least 24 hours.  Wear a mask if you must be around others while ill.  People can be contagious from 24 hours prior to symptoms, to a week after becoming ill.  It can take up to 4 days to feel sick after “catching” the ‘flu.

  1. Keep yourself healthy and strong.

Get enough sleep and eat healthy foods.  Take your prescribed medications.

  1. Consider post-exposure preventive medication

If you have been in close quarters with someone who is diagnosed with influenza, see your doctor right away to discuss possibly taking medication to prevent influenza.  Get a vaccine if you have not yet done so.

Dr. Rachel Chastanet

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