IONIA COUNTY — Officials at the Ionia County Health Department say it’s not too late to protect yourself and your loved ones from the flu, and the flu vaccine is the best way to do it. The department is encouraging everyone to get vaccinated this season.
The flu, short for influenza, is an infection of the nose, throat and lungs that is caused by the influenza virus. Individuals with the flu may feel tired and have fever, headache, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose and sore muscles.
Most people with the flu are sick for about a week, but then feel better. However, some — especially young children, pregnant women, older people, and those with chronic health problems — can get very sick and some can die.
The flu spreads easily from person to person. You can take simple steps every day to prevent the spread of flu germs and stay healthy yourself. These include:
Wash your hands with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand rub often, especially after using tissues or coughing and sneezing into your hands.
Cough or sneeze into your arm or shoulder, not your hands.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth unless your hands are clean.
Stay home if you get sick. Stay at home until you have been free of fever (100°F or 37.8° C), or signs of a fever, for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication.
Contact your physician with any questions or concerns you may have.
Everyone 6 months or older should get the flu vaccine and now is a good time to get vaccinated. According to ICHD Health Officer/Director of Environmental Health Ken Bowen, there is no live virus in the flu shot.
“The nasal spray sometimes contains live virus, but the nasal spray is not being recommended by CDC this year,” Bowen said, referring to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Flu shots are available at the Ionia County Health Department; call 616-527-5341 for more information. The out-of-pocket fee is $18; the health department also takes Medicaid and Blue Cross/Blue Shield.
For more information on the flu, visit the CDC’s website at www.cdc.gov/flu.