Fight the flu

3_FluThere is no excuse for not getting a flu shot. The shot is safe, does not cause the flu and is the single best way to protect against getting the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Plus, the shots are available for free at the Kansas City Health Care Trust Employee Clinic for City of Kansas City, Mo. employees, spouses, dependents and retirees who are enrolled in one of the City’s Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance plans. Flu shots are available for children older than six months. Shots are available now; click here for hours of operation. There is no copay and and no deductible for this service at the Clinic.

For years, medical professionals have been working to convince us to get a flu shot, combating a myriad of excuses that have been scientifically disproven. The shots have been given to hundreds of millions of people for more than 50 years and have a very good safety track record. Each year the CDC works closely with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other partners to ensure the highest safety standards for the flu vaccine.

The vaccine cannot cause the flu illness; however, it can cause mild side effects that may be mistaken for flu. For example, people vaccinated with the flu shot may feel achy and may have a sore arm where the shot was given. These side effects are not the flu. If experienced at all, these effects are usually mild and last only one or two days.

Now is the best time for a flu shot

CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease. People should begin getting vaccinated soon after flu vaccine becomes available, if possible by October, to ensure that as many people as possible are protected before flu season begins. However, as long as flu viruses are circulating in the community, it’s not too late to get vaccinated.

Flu viruses are thought to spread mainly from person to person through droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze, or talk. Flu viruses also may spread when people touch something with flu virus on it and then touch their mouth, eyes, or nose.

Prevention is the best protection

People infected with flu may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5-7 days after becoming sick. That means you may be able to spread the flu to someone else before you know you are sick as well as while you are sick. Young children, those who are severely ill, and those who have severely weakened immune systems may be able to infect others for longer than 5-7 days.

The CDC recommends the following to prevent contracting the flu:

  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you or your child gets sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you (or your child) stay home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. The fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.
  • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.
  • If an outbreak of flu or another illness occurs, follow public health advice. This may include information about how to increase distance between people and other measures.