Flu is spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing. People may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.
Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five days after becoming sick. That means you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.
So now let's talk about preventing the flu. The single best way to do that is to get a flu vaccine each year.
There are two types of vaccines. One is the "flu shot" (containing a dead virus) that is given with a needle. It is approved for use in people 6 months of age and older, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions. The other is the nasal-spray flu vaccine - which is made with live, weakened flu viruses that do not cause the flu (sometimes called LAIV for "Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine). LAIV is approved for use in healthy people 5 years to 49 years of age who are not pregnant.
About two weeks after vaccination, antibodies develop that protect against influenza virus infection. Flu vaccines will not protect against flu-like illnesses caused by non-influenza viruses.
Other prevention methods are covering your mouth when coughing and frequent good hand-washing practices. In general, anyone who wants to reduce their chances of getting the flu can get vaccinated.
Some people should get vaccinated each year because they live with or care for high-risk persons. People who should not be vaccinated without first consulting a physician are: people with a severe allergy to eggs, people who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination in the past, people who developed Guillain-Barre' syndrome (GBS) within six weeks of getting an influenza vaccine in the past and children less than 6 months of age. People who have a moderate or severe illness with a fever should wait to get vaccinated until their symptoms decrease.
Our community flu clinic will be Oct. 3 at George Rogers Clark High School (during fall break) from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Please call the Clark County Health Department for an appointment or for more information.