~Residents and Visitors are encouraged to take precautions to prevent seasonal flu~
Bradenton — The Florida Department of Health in Manatee County (DOH-Manatee) reports that the 2014-2015 flu season is off to an early start and residents and visitors are urged to get vaccinated to protect themselves and others against the flu.
The flu vaccine is safe and continues to be the best way to protect yourself and others from the flu. The national Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that all individuals six months of age and older receive the flu vaccine each year. Since infants younger than 6 months of age are too young to get vaccinated against influenza, it is important that family members (including pregnant mothers) and other caregivers for these children be vaccinated to help protect them from the disease.
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that, nationally, this year’s flu vaccine is not as effective against the most common flu strain identified this year because the virus has changed. Despite the change or “drift” in this strain, vaccination can still decrease severity of illness. It can also protect against other circulating strains of the virus, which is why vaccination is still recommended.
“The seasonal flu vaccine is still the single best form of protection against the flu.” said Carrie Harter, Acting Director of Disease Control for DOH-Manatee. “It is also important that people who do become infected with the influenza virus stay home when they are sick and parents keep sick children at home to prevent spreading the flu.”
Additional steps to prevent flu include coughing or sneezing into a tissue or your elbow, washing your hands frequently, and keeping your hands away from your face. Symptoms of the flu include headache, fever, severe cough, runny nose or body aches. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, see your primary care provider immediately for guidance on treatment. Early treatment with antivirals is important and can help people get better more quickly, as well as help to prevent severe complications.
The flu vaccine is offered in many locations, including doctors’ offices, clinics, DOH-Manatee, retail stores, pharmacies, health centers and by many employers.