Did you know that every year, your volunteers get their flu vaccine? Someone actually comes in during drill to make sure that we stay as healthy as possible so that we don’t spread the flu while out on calls!
Even healthy people can catch the flu and have serious complications or even die – which is one of the reasons why it is suggested that everyone over the age of 6 months should receive a vaccination. It is most important for people under 5 years old, over 65 years old, and those with chronic health conditions or who are pregnant. Last flu season, over 80,000 people died. Of those who were children, 80% were not vaccinated and about 50% had otherwise been considered healthy.
These groups are more likely to experience serious complications from the flu, such as:
- Sinus problems and ear infections
- Worsening of pre-existing conditions
- Inflammation of the heart, brain, and/or muscle tissue
- Multiple organ failure
The flu vaccine helps prevent you from getting the flu and helps keep the flu milder when you do catch it – which means it reduces the risk of serious complications and death. As an added bonus, by getting your flu vaccine, you’re helping keep the people around you safer by something called herd immunity – you’re making it so there are less human hosts for the flu to move to thus reducing the overall flu levels! This helps protect the most vulnerable people around us, including newborns and older adults. Additionally, women who are pregnant pass on antibodies to their unborn children to help protect them from the flu after they are born!
It takes two weeks for the flu vaccine to reach its full effectiveness so it’s important to get the vaccine early in the flu season – like right now!
It is believed that the flu is spread through droplets released when someone with the flu coughs, sneezes, or even just talks. You are able to spread the flu before you even know that you are sick!
It is important to know the difference between the flu, a cold, and viral gastroenteritis (the “stomach flu”). People often confuse the three because of either similar symptoms or the use of similar names. Symptoms of the flu come on suddenly and include:
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Sore Throat
- Muscle or body aches
- Chest Discomfort
- Some may experience diarrhea or vomiting but this is mainly found in children.
The flu vaccine is covered by most insurance companies, including the Oregon Health Plan. Depending on age and health, some people have the option of either the traditional shot or a nasal spray.
You can get a flu vaccine at your doctor’s office by appointment, many pharmacies during normal pharmacy hours (including both the Dallas WalMart and Rite Aid!), and at Polk County Public Health by appointment.