What IS the flu? Do I need a flu shot?

Desiree Callison BSN, RN Infection Prevention Nurse at GRMC explains about when the Flu Season is and important facts that you and your family need to know. 

Flu season is October through March; this always varies from the fluctuation of the virus. The flu can be transmitted any time during the year; this is just when it flourishes. 

People have to remember that you can get the flu anywhere, in the grocery store, at work, daycare, and school. The best thing that you can do to protect yourself and your family is to wash your hands regularly, and cover your cough if you do have one. This means that when your coughing you should cough or sneeze into your elbow. Covering with your hand is acceptable if you have an immediate way to wash/cleanse your hands. Elbow is best to contain any particles that may be expelled during the act. Stay home when you are sick, this helps to contain the illness and stop the spread.

The flu shot contains four different strands that the CDC has identified is at risk for this flu season, getting the vaccine is not 100% protective against the flu, however it will significantly decrease the duration of the flu should you get it. This will decrease the time you spend with flu symptoms from a week to 10 days to just a few days. This will also help people who cannot protect themselves with the flu shot due to immune system disorders/diseases. It takes two weeks for the flu shot to actually be effective, this is not a live virus. If you have an egg allergy we have egg free option available. The more people who are immunized in the community the less the virus will flourish. 

The flu virus is a respiratory, body aches, fatigue and malaise, high temperature and comes on suddenly. When some people say they have the "stomach flu' this involves the gastrointestinal tract involving diarrhea and vomiting. This is not the actual flu and should not be confused with the flu shot being able to  protect against GI viruses. 

With this being said, you can still come and see your loved ones in the hospital; you need to stop at the nurses station and ask them how to protect yourself. You will see our isolation precaution bags on the door and you will need to use the appropriate personal protection and your loved ones nurse can show you how to put these on. Remember that even though you may be putting on gloves hand hygiene is a big component and needs to be done prior to putting gloves on and after taking gloves off. 

Please stay informed during the upcoming flu season and watch for more information from Greater Regional to keep you and your family healthy!