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November 30, 2010 > Stay healthy, get your flu shot

Stay healthy, get your flu shot

By Supervisor Dave Cortese

Well, it is that time of year again - flu season is upon us. I want to take a few moments to talk about influenza and pass on information about vaccination. According to the Santa Clara County Public Health Department, flu is a respiratory infection caused by a virus. There are many different types of viruses that cause flu. Symptoms range from fever, headache, body aches and pains to coughing, sneezing and chest discomfort. Often the fever will subside after four days. However, weakness and fatigue can persist for two to three weeks. Serious flu complications can be life-threatening, especially for the chronically ill. Check with your doctor if you have flu-like symptoms or if you need more information for a full recovery.

There are several things you can do to prevent falling sick or, if you are ill, to reduce the chances of infecting others.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of tissues immediately; don't save them on a table or couch until you feel well enough to throw them away. Wash your hands often with soap and warm water, particularly after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose. Stay healthy with a good, balanced diet, drinking plenty of water, exercising and getting enough rest.

If you, or a family member, are sick, you should stay at home and avoid the workplace. Sick children should not go to school or daycare. It is important to prevent spreading illness to others.

Some groups are vulnerable to catching flu and possible complications. Children aged six months to five years; anyone over the age of 50; pregnant women; people with health conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, heart or neurological disease; Adults with a Body Mass Index over 40; and residents of nursing homes or chronic care facilities.

There is a vaccination that can be administered to most older than six months. It helps protect from a variety of different types of flu anticipated in our community this year. Last flu season, there was concern over H1N1 and many people obtained both a flu shot and an H1N1 shot. This year, only one injection is needed for protection against H1N1 and several other flu strains. Anyone caring for a baby younger than six months and healthcare workers should be inoculated sooner rather than later.

It is very important for those in the high-risk categories mentioned previously to consider getting a flu vaccination. Those who are allergic to eggs or have reacted to the flu vaccine in the past or are seriously ill may not be able to be vaccinated. Please check with you doctor if you have any questions before having a flu shot.

Additionally, in California, Pertussis has been declared an epidemic. Although it causes mild symptoms, if any, in adults, this disease causes serious complications for babies younger than 12 months who have not been fully vaccinated. This year, in California, 10 babies, most aged less than three months, have died from Pertussis which is transmitted by the people around them. All adults, who live with or are in regular contact with children younger than 12 months, are advised to obtain a TDAP vaccination.

For more information or to find the nearest location for flu shots or TDAP vaccinations, check with your doctor, local pharmacy or visit the Public Health Department's website at www.sccphd.org.

Be safe, stay healthy and feel free to contact my office about this or any other topic at (408) 299-5030 or dave.cortese@bos.sccgov.org.

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