For the average, healthy person, getting the flu is a miserable experience: the body aches, fever, sore throat, fatigue, and chills will have you down and out for days, possibly even weeks. But for those with other medical conditions, the flu can create complications that can be much more serious, and sometimes deadly. That is one reason we take the flu so seriously at New Hanover Regional Medical Center.
We all have a responsibility to protect ourselves – and each other - from the flu. We need to create a cocoon of safety around those for whom contact with the flu virus is a life-threatening event. The flu can create complications for young children, seniors and pregnant women, as well as those with asthma, chronic lung disease, heart disease, neurological conditions, kidney and liver disorders. It is also a high risk for those who have a weakened immune system due to HIV or treatment for cancer.
Odds are pretty good you know someone who fits in one of those categories and wouldn’t want to put them – or anyone else -- at increased risk. Doing your part is relatively simple: Get your flu shot and, if you get sick, do everything you can to limit the spread of germs.
Now is the Time
The flu season usually peaks between December and February, so getting a vaccine now can help minimize your risk. You need a vaccine every year, and getting it now will remove one more item from your holiday to-do list. Vaccines are created based on the best estimates for the strain that will be circulating each year. How closely the vaccine matches the current strain varies, so you might still get the flu if you have received a vaccine, but your symptoms may be less severe than they otherwise would have been. The vaccine will not —ever — give you the flu.
Sick? Don’t Share
No one wants you to come to work sick - no matter how important your job. If you get the flu, please stay home. You will be doing everyone a favor. Don’t go to schools, stores, or any public places. Wash your hands, cough into your sleeve, and keep your germs from spreading. It’s your responsibility to others.
Most importantly, do not come to the hospital to visit patients or wait for others having surgery or tests. Here, we are caring for patients with the medical conditions that can make them particularly vulnerable to the flu. If you are sick and want to visit a loved one in the hospital, Skype, Facetime, or send an email instead. A face-to-face visit is wonderful, but safety needs to be the top concern. You should be symptom-free for 48 hours before coming to the hospital to visit.