Why get a flu shot?

CHAS Health recommends that everyone ages 6 months and older get an annual flu shot to lower the risk of getting the flu, and limit flu exposure to others.

Did you know that even though the new year has started and spring is just around the corner, it is still officially the cold and flu season?  Seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and continue as late as May, in some regions.  Adults and children alike can still catch the flu, and no one wants to expose anyone to illness-causing germs.  Parents of ill children are still faced with the decision whether or not to send them to school, and adults are concerned they might spread illness to their co-workers.  We all want to help minimize missed school and work days.

Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between a cold and the flu, but there are some different symptoms with each illness:

Fever

Often the flu includes a fever, while a cold does not. A fever is the body’s way of fighting off infection.  It is the most common reason adults stay home from work, and why parents keep their children home from school. The definition of a fever is a temperature of 100.4 or higher, though some schools and daycare centers will have their own rules. The general rule of thumb is to stay away from work or school until the fever is gone and temperature has returned to 98.6 degrees.

Upper Respiratory

Adults and children may have several different cold viruses each winter.  Typical cold symptoms include a runny nose, sore throat, and cough, and most people can usually participate in school without any restrictions. Coughs may linger for several weeks after the other symptoms have resolved. It is important to remember the importance of coughing or sneezing into an elbow or a tissue, and to practice proper hand washing techniques to limit the spread of germs.

The flu is similar to a cold, but is accompanied by high fevers and body aches. It can also include extreme fatigue, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or anything else that causes the lack of ability to function normally. If an adult or child has the flu, they should stay home until their symptoms have disappeared.

Vomiting and Diarrhea

When the flu brings vomiting and diarrhea, both adults and children should stay home until these symptoms have resolved. Adults and older children with only mild diarrhea, who are able to use the toilet and wash their hands on their own, may go to work and school if they don’t have any other symptoms.
Illnesses are a normal part life for both adults and children, but they’re no fun to go through. We can’t keep ourselves or our children home for every sniffle and sneeze, and we want to minimize the spread of germs to others.  That’s why getting an annual flu shot is so very important.

If you have any questions about whether or not you or your child should stay home due of any illness, talk to your healthcare provider.

For more information about the 2016-2017 flu season, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):  https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2016-2017.htm

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