January 20, 2013 12:00:00 AM
As you hear more about flu impacting our community, you may wonder what you can do. Here are answers to some of the frequently asked questions about the flu from King County Public Health.
Also, during the month of January, Public Health – Seattle & King County is offering free flu vaccinations for people without insurance or who cannot afford to pay. For dates, times, locations and more information, click here.
- Flu vaccination is the single best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from flu. Health experts recommend flu vaccine for all people 6 months and older, especially for pregnant women and other high-risk persons. Make sure everyone who lives with or cares for an infant younger than 6 months and with pregnant women gets vaccinated to protect the infant from getting flu.
- You can also take these everyday steps to protect yourself against the flu:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use alcohol-based hand cleaners.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Touching these areas spreads germs.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- Help stop the spread of flu:
- Cover your nose and mouth with your sleeve or a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- Stay home from work and school if you are sick until at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, and avoid close contact with others.
How to get flu vaccine
Flu vaccine (shots and nasal spray) is available at many healthcare provider offices and pharmacies. You can use http://flushot.healthmap.org to help locate it near you.
To find free or low-cost flu vaccine in King County call the Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588 or visit www.parenthelp123.org.
Flu illness and symptoms
- For the majority of healthy children and non-elderly adults, flu may cause considerable discomfort and require staying home for a period of days, but most healthy people will get better with rest at home and plenty of fluids.
- Symptoms of flu include cough, sore throat, sneezing, fever, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, chills, tiredness, diarrhea, and vomiting.
- If you are an otherwise healthy person with mild symptoms, there’s usually no need to see your doctor – it is better to stay home and take care of yourself.
Higher risk groups and seeing a doctor
- Flu can be serious for infants and children under two years of age, pregnant women, the elderly (persons 65 years and older), and many people who have long-term health problems such as diabetes, asthma, neurological diseases, heart or lung problems, weakened immune systems, and obesity.
- These people are at high risk for severe illness and should call their doctor promptly if they develop flu symptoms. In some instances, flu can lead to hospitalization and even death.
- Doctors can prescribe anti-viral medicine to prevent severe illness, but they work best if given within 48 hours of getting sick.
For more information, visit www.kingcounty.gov/health/flu