Protecting Yourself and Our Community from the Flu

September 5, 2017

By Steve Heatherly, CEO,
Harris Regional Hospital

For many of us, September is a time for getting back into routines and looking forward to the cooler weather just around the corner. Unfortunately, September also means that flu season is right around the corner.

At Harris Regional Hospital, our mission is Making Communities Healthier. That means we want to ensure that we do everything we can to prevent the spread of this serious illness and help you stay healthy for the busy months ahead. So, as you get settled into the new fall season this month, make flu prevention part of your routine.

Get Vaccinated
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly influenza vaccination for everyone six months of age and older as the first and best form of prevention against the flu. Studies show that, not only can the flu vaccine reduce your risk of illness by about 50 to 60 percent, but it can also make your illness milder, should you contract the flu, resulting in fewer doctor visits, less time missed from your daily routines and fewer flu-related hospitalizations. And by preventing the spread of the virus, you’re helping others in your community stay healthy, like older people, pregnant women, young children and those with health conditions who are especially vulnerable to serious complications from this illness.

Getting a flu shot is a minor interruption in your schedule, but one whose benefits far outweigh the temporary inconvenience. To get vaccinated, you can visit the Public Health Department, a walk-in clinic or pharmacy, or your primary care physician. If you don’t have a primary care physician, visit us at MyHarrisRegional.com or call us at 844.414.DOCS and we’ll get you connected to the right care.

The Next Steps
While getting vaccinated is the first and most important line of defense against contracting and spreading of the flu virus, prevention doesn’t stop there. There are some additional measures you can take to help prevent the flu for you and others.

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds, or use a hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol-based.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Avoid sharing food, cups or eating utensils.
  • Disinfect your home and belongings, such as door knobs, light switches, children’s toys and play areas.
  • Stay home from school or work if you are sick to prevent the spread of germs.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing with a tissue, your sleeve or elbow, and NOT your bare hands.
  • Get a flu shot.
  • Call your local hospital or your primary care doctor with any questions.

At Harris Regional Hospital we’ll be doing our part, too, to help prevent the flu from spreading, including:

  • Providing masks to all visitors and patients experiencing flu-like symptoms;
  • Setting up stations throughout the facility stocked with tissues and alcohol-based hand sanitizers;
  • Encouraging all patients, staff and visitors who have not done so already to get their flu shot;
  • Providing educational materials to all visitors about everyday preventative actions; and
  • If needed, limiting visitation hours to help limit the spread of infection.

Flu Treatment
Should you contract the flu, early detection is key. Prescription antiviral drugs can help reduce the time you’re sick if the virus is caught early enough. And early detection is especially important for those who are susceptible to serious complications. If you or a loved one begins to notice symptoms including coughing, sore throat, fever or upper respiratory symptoms, it’s important to see your doctor right away.

You should also limit contact with others as much as possible immediately after noticing symptoms. Stay home (or keep your child home) for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone, except to seek medical care or for other necessities.

For additional information about influenza, visit www.cdc.org/flu or contact the Public Health Department.