(Press Release From BEDHD)

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The Barry-Eaton District Health Department wants to remind everyone that even though the holiday season has arrived, it is not too late to get the flu vaccine.

For millions of people every season, influenza (flu) can mean a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, fatigue, and miserable days spent in bed. More than 200,000 people are hospitalized in the United States from flu complications each year. The flu also can be deadly, but there is a vaccine that can prevent flu. A yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older is the first and most important step in protecting against influenza disease. Flu vaccination also may make the illness milder if someone does get sick. Flu vaccine is available as a shot and as a nasal spray.

Some people are at high risk for flu-related complications, like pneumonia, that can lead to hospitalization and even death. This includes young children, pregnant women, people 65 and older, and people with certain medical conditions, like asthma, diabetes, or heart disease. For those at high risk for serious complications, getting the flu vaccine is especially important. It’s also important that those who live with or care for anyone at high risk, including babies younger than 6 months, get the vaccine, to keep from spreading flu to them.

Talk to your doctor or other health care professional about which type of vaccine is best for you, i.e. the shot or the nasal spray. Flu vaccinations are offered in many locations, including doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, pharmacies and college health centers. So next time you see a sign that says, “Get Your Flu Vaccine Here,” stop in and get one and encourage friends and family to do the same. Use the HealthMap Vaccine Finder at http://vaccine.healthmap.org to find the nearest location where people can get vaccinated. It’s never too late in the flu season to get flu vaccine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends taking “3 Actions” to fight flu this season:

  1. Get vaccinated
  2. Take everyday preventive actions, such as washing your hands and staying home if you are sick, to help stop the spread of germs
  3. Take antiviral medications to treat flu illness if your doctor prescribes them

Antiviral drugs are a second line of defense to treat flu illness. They can prevent serious flu complications and may decrease the length of the illness. These drugs work best when started soon after influenza symptoms begin (within two days), but persons with high-risk conditions can benefit even when treatment is started after the first two days of illness. A doctor or health care professional can decide if a patient needs antiviral drugs.

Stay healthy to enjoy the holidays with family and friends, and help prevent the spread of influenza by making sure everyone gets their flu shot! For more information, please visit www.cdc.gov/flu/consumer/.