Get the flu shot: It saves lives
This time of year reminds us to give thanks.
This year, I’m thankful to be a new member of the team at Lehigh Valley Health Network, where I serve as vice president of market development.
My colleagues and I are thankful and humbled to be your health care partner.
We’re also thankful for the skilled and compassionate providers in the community. Our partnership with local providers enables us to deliver the world-class care for which LVHN is known.
As a longtime employee of Carbon County, I’m thankful to have the opportunity to speak with you regularly in the Times News and share information you and your family need to live well.
This month, we have tips to help you and your family stay safe during flu season.
The flu vaccine
Every year researchers review virus samples to determine the shot’s composition. Even if the circulating virus strain is not an exact match to the vaccine, it is still your best defense against influenza.
“There is lots of evidence-based research that shows vaccination decreases hospital visits, decreases hospitalizations, decreases lost work days, lost time at school, and it is your number one best method for protecting yourself and your family,” says Terry Burger, RN, Lehigh Valley Health Network’s director of infection control and prevention.
Everyone ages 6 months and older should get a flu shot each year.
The only people who should not are those with underlying contraindications — talk with your health care provider to understand if you have any reasons to not get a flu shot.
One myth Burger says you need to know the truth about is this: You cannot get sick from the flu shot.
“It’s an inactivated vaccine. You absolutely cannot get the flu from the flu shot,” she says.
As we move into a time of year when flu becomes more widespread, make time to get your flu shot. “Flu shots save lives,” Burger says. “You will not only protect yourself but will help reduce the risk of spreading the flu to the people you love.”
Be Careful What You Touch
Frequent hand washing can help remove viruses and other microbes from your skin. Alcohol-based hand cleansers can be used when you can’t wash your hands.
Remember to avoid touching your face after touching surfaces that others have touched like: doorknobs, cabinet handles, telephones, faucet handles, microwave or fridge handles, remote controls, shopping cart push handle, etc.
Also, clean surfaces to help remove viruses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says common cleaners, including soap, chlorine bleach or hydrogen peroxide can kill the flu virus on surfaces.
Make healthy choices to help your body defend itself against viruses. Get plenty of sleep, eat a nutritious diet, drink plenty of fluids and exercise regularly.
If You Get Sick
If you happen to get sick with flu, Burger says there are things you can do to NOT spread your illness to others:
• Do not go to work, school, the mall, grocery store, the movies, place of worship, etc.
• Sneeze into a tissue or the crook of your elbow
• Cough into a tissue or the crook of your elbow
• Toss used tissues into the trash. (Reminder: If you happen to clean up someone else’s used tissue, wash your hands thoroughly.)
Flu symptoms come on suddenly and include fever, body aches, chills, tiredness, cough and headache, and for some people sneezing, stuffy nose and sore throat. The CDC says cold symptoms are milder than flu symptoms.
If you go to the doctor and are diagnosed with influenza, you may be treated with antiviral medication.
If your symptoms seem severe, you may need help at the ER, says Burger.
“Go to the hospital if you have shortness of breath, if you have a prolonged illness that doesn’t seem to be getting better, or if you are feeling chest pain,” she says.
Get your flu shot
If you haven’t received your flu shot yet, LVHN is making it easier for residents with flu shot clinics.
Visit ExpressCARE–Lehighton, located at 363 N. First St. Lehighton on Sunday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to receive a free flu shot while supplies last.
In order to receive your free flu vaccination, complete and print a consent form for each person being vaccinated from LVHN.org/flushotclinic and bring it with you.