Influenza Season Is Here!

medicare-flu-coverage

The 2012-2013 flu is here and in high activity, and about a month early according to a spokesman from St. Vincent Health System in Indianapolis.  Reports from the CDC have indicated that influenza activity is being reported across the United States with twenty-nine states now reporting widespread activity.  The good news is that the flu vaccine appears to be a good match for the present seasonal circulating virus so it is not too late to get vaccinated.

What is the Flu?

Influenza (flu) is a contagious illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the respiratory tract.  The influenza virus is especially unpredictable with the elderly, young, or anyone with other health problems.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3,000-49,000 people die of influenza and complications of the disease.

What are the symptoms of the flu?

It is important to recognize that not everyone with the flu will have a fever.  Many of the patients we have seen in the emergency room at St. Vincent Hospital are presenting the following signs and symptoms:

  • Fever or chills
  • Sore throat and cough
  • Body aches and headache
  • Extreme tiredness
  • May have bouts of vomiting and diarrhea

How is influenza spread?

Influenza can spread quickly from the respiratory droplets from an infected person.  In addition, surfaces and objects that are contaminated with the droplets can also cause influenza if people touch the surface and then touch their eyes, mouth or nose.  People infected with the influenza virus can spread the virus to others about one day before the symptoms actually developed and seven days after becoming sick.

Preventing flu

The best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine.  It takes about two weeks after vaccination to build up the antibodies that protect against the virus.  Seniors that are in senior communities and nursing homes are especially vulnerable for picking up the virus.  The regular seasonal flu shot is usually injected into the muscle of the upper arm.  For our senior population, a hi-dose vaccine has been developed for people over 65 and older and it is also intramuscular.  This year’s vaccine gives excellent coverage for three influenza viruses that have been identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (CDC)

The 2012-2013 flu season has officially begun.  However, it tends to peak in January and February.  The best gift you can give yourself or your loved one is an influenza vaccination.  To learn additional information about the influenza season and its impact on your location, visit the CDC web site at: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/summary.htm

 
 
 

About the author

I am passionate about sharing senior citizen news and resources discovered from both my profession and personal journey.

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