Fight the Flu

  • Published
  • By Captain Joaquina Fontes-Lopes
  • 90th Medical Group
The influenza (flu) season is soon approaching and now is the time to be prepared to fight the flu. Air Force Global Strike Command and the 90th Medical Group are encouraging everyone to be immunized by December. Influenza, commonly called the flu, is a contagious virus that infects the respiratory tract and spreads from one infected person to another. The flu can cause severe illness and complications in the elderly, young children, and people with chronic health conditions or with low immune systems. An average of 200,000 people are hospitalized each year from flu-related complications; the majority are children under the age of 5 and adults older than 65.

Know How to Differentiate between the Flu and Cold Symptoms

Flu symptoms usually start suddenly and may include the following symptoms: fever, headaches, cough, sore-throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body ache, and fatigue. Diarrhea and vomiting are less common. It is also important to note that colds and flu share many symptoms, so it can be difficult to differentiate between the two based on the symptoms alone. In general, the flu is worse than the common cold, though both are viral, so antibiotics don't help.

Know How to Fight the Flu

One of the most effective ways to protect from the flu is to get the flu vaccination every year because the strains in the seasonal vaccine change. This year's influenza vaccination provides protection against three flu strains, including the H1N1 "bird flu" virus that was responsible for the pandemic of 2009. Good respiratory etiquette and frequent hand washing will also prevent the spread of seasonal flu as well as most of infectious disease. Wash your hands when you are sick or when in close contact with sick people. When you cough or sneeze, use a tissue and dispose of it in a trash can or toilet. Most importantly, if you experience any flu symptoms, stay home! This prevents spread to others.

Flu Vaccination is a Requirement not a Recommendation

All adults and children older than 6 months of age are encouraged to receive the influenza vaccination. The flu vaccination is a requirement for all active duty members, as well as health care workers, school age children, and people who work in child care.

Now Available in 90th Medical Group Immunization Clinic

The 90th Medical Group is now administering the influenza vaccination on a walk-in basis. Both intranasal and injectable versions are available; staff will screen you for the appropriate vaccination. The Immunization Clinic is open Monday - Friday, 0730-1200 and 1300-1530 (closed for training the third Thursday monthly until 1300). Please call 773-3461 with any questions.