Influenza Season Is Here in Full Swing; are you and your family ready?
Pulmonologists from The Oregon Clinic say it’s not too late to get your flu shot and help prevent yourself and others from getting sick this winter.
In the 2013-2014 “flu season,” typically beginning in winter and peaking in January or February, there has been a spike in H1N1 (swine flu) infections and associated increases in hospitalizations throughout the Portland metro area. This year’s flu vaccine is a good match to protect against H1N1, as the vast majority of influenza that has been identified is this predominant strain.
Dr. Paul Cieslak, medical director of Oregon’s immunization program, has predicted that Oregon has two hard months left of the flu season.
- The increase has been noted over the last 2-3 weeks and clearly has not peaked
- It will probably continue to increase particularly given the amount of travel that occurs around the Holidays
- Our flu “seasons” tend to last 10-12 weeks, i.e. expect that we will be seeing H1N1 through February
- According to the CDC, almost 98% of the flu this year is “A” and the vast majority of influenza that has been typed is H1N1 (the same as 2009)
- H1N1 was in the vaccine available this year
- 98% of the influenza strains tested have been susceptible to oseltamivir (Tamiflu)
- Most of the cases that we have seen in the hospital so far have been in people that have not had a vaccine
What is The Oregon Clinic doing to help stop the spread of the flu?
We are reminding patients to cover their mouths when they cough, providing hand sanitizer, and also providing masks to people if they have cold/flu-like illness and they need to be seen. We ask patients if they have had a flu shot when they are being checked in and if not, ask them if they want one.
We encourage patients not to come in for a “routine” follow up if they have mild flu-like illness, without compromise to their underlying condition. If patients do have flu-like symptoms and need to be seen here, we will put them in a room ASAP and not have them “hang out” out in the waiting room exposing other patients. If they have more severe symptoms or significant baseline co-morbidities, we send them to the emergency room for further evaluation and care.
What can you do to help protect yourself and others from this year’s flu?
Follow these Six Simple Tips from The Oregon Clinic – Pulmonary Medicine
- Get vaccinated; it’s not too late! It takes about two weeks to develop antibodies after the vaccine. Most of the cases that Oregon has seen that put individuals in the hospital are in people that have not had a vaccine.
- Remind yourself and others to cover the mouth when coughing, and wash your hands frequently.
- Wear a mask if you have cold- or flu-like symptoms.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick, and stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose. Germs are often spread when touching a contaminated object or surface, and then touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.
- Practice good health habits. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at your home, work, or school; get plenty of sleep; be physically active; manage your stress; drink plenty of fluids; and eat nutritious food.
For additional resources and tips to stay healthy, visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm.