(Editor’s Note: With flu season nearly upon us, Brenda Rhodes, lab manager and infection control chairman at St. Luke Hospital, offers these tips and information for staying healthy.)
No one can predict the magnitude of the upcoming flu season or any flu season. Will it be mild or will there be flu outbreaks, which will affect all of us one way or another?
We are preparing for either of these scenarios by being proactive. Vaccination of hospital employees is almost complete, with a 90 percent compliance rate. If an outbreak occurs, there are contingency plans to continue functioning even if the hospital is short-staffed or inundated with patients.
In the 1500s, Italians believed the illness “influenza” was controlled by the influence of the moon and stars. While we now know what causes the flu and how to prevent it, other myths about flu persevere.
- “Flu vaccines can give a person the flu.” This is impossible since the three viruses used to create the flu vaccine are non-infectious.
- “One flu shot lasts several years.” Flu viruses have an astonishing ability to mutate. The vaccines that manufacturers produce each year are “customized” to the strain that will be prevalent.
- “Flu symptoms are just like those of a cold.” Although the two illnesses share some similarities, they are more different than alike. Most notably, infection with the flu causes symptoms of high fever, body aches and pains, and profound weariness. However, the major difference between the flu and the common cold is the individual potential. While a cold can be annoying, the flu has the capacity to kill, especially elderly.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that everyone — ages 6 months and older — receive an influenza vaccine during the influenza season, not just health care workers.
Will you be proactive?