Rowan Co. Public Health: Share the cheer, not the flu

As of late last week, the CDC reported that North Carolina continues to see a very high level...
As of late last week, the CDC reported that North Carolina continues to see a very high level of flu activity, along with of our neighboring states being at the same level or even higher.(WBTV File)
Published: Dec. 2, 2022 at 10:39 AM EST
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ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - The Rowan County Health Department is urging residents to spread the cheer, not the flu, during the Holiday season. A news release provides information on how to stay safe and well.

As of late last week, the CDC reported that North Carolina continues to see a very high level of flu activity, along with of our neighboring states being at the same level or even higher. With this being the case and with the Christmas season upon us, we need to take extra precautions when planning holiday festivities with others, especially those not in our immediate family.

The CDC recommends getting a flu vaccination every year for anyone 6 months and older. In addition to this being the best way in preventing the flu, the flu vaccination is also known to make the flu illness much milder for those who may get sick.

It is important to know that certain groups of people, especially those you may be around throughout the holidays, may be at a higher risk for getting seriously ill from the flu, if they do get sick. These include children younger than five, pregnant women, people over 65, and those individuals with certain chronic medical conditions such as heart or lung disease. Research has shown that over half of the children who die from the flu have no known medical condition that would put them at a higher risk. However, on a more positive note, studies have shown that the flu vaccine does reduce the risk of flu-associated deaths by half in children with high-risk medical conditions and by two-thirds in healthy children.

The flu can cause a mild to severe illness; and at times, it can even lead to death. Flu symptoms usually come on suddenly and can consist of the following symptoms:

  • fever* or feeling feverish/chills
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • muscle or body aches
  • headaches
  • fatigue (tiredness)
  • some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.

If you should get the flu, antiviral drugs can be used to treat your illness. Antiviral drugs, such as Tamiflu, are known to make the flu much milder and can shorten the time one is sick. Studies show that flu antiviral drugs work best for treatment when they are started within 2 days of getting sick; but starting them later can still be helpful, especially if the individual is at a higher risk of getting sick or is already very sick from the flu. If you are at high risk and/or you start to have flu symptoms, please call your health care provider as soon as possible to see if antivirals need to be prescribed.

In closing, please do your part to stop the spread of the flu and other respiratory illnesses, such as RSV and COVID-19, by continuing to practice the following preventative measures:

· Make sure you are up to date on all your vaccinations. Appointments can be made at Rowan County Public Health for your flu vaccine, your initial COVID-19 vaccines, as well as your Moderna or Pfizer bivalent booster by calling 704-216-8863.

· Keep your distance and wear a face mask in crowded, indoor public spaces.

· Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

· Cover your mouth and nose with your arm/elbow or use a tissue when you cough or sneeze.

· Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

· Avoid close contact, such as kissing your baby or child on the mouth or face, shaking hands, and sharing cups and eating utensils with others.

· Clean and disinfect on a daily-basis high-touch surfaces, such as doorknobs, light switches, electronics, toys. and countertops.

· Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick or has symptoms.

If you or a loved one does become sick with the fluRSV, and /or COVID-19, please stay at home and follow the recommended isolation guidelines for each illness.