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Health eTips is produced by the staff of the St. Charles County Department of Public Health. The department consists of three divisions - Environmental Health and Protection, Health Services and Humane Services - that provide a wide range of services focused on enhancing the well-being of this community.

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Oct 01

Flu Prevention

Posted on October 1, 2018 at 10:08 AM by Doug Bolnick


For St. Charles County, 2017-2018 was a busy flu season, with more than 8,600 cases of the illness reported — more than double the previous highest total. Nationally, health officialsFlu shot warning estimate 80,000 deaths across the United States attributed to the flu, including the death of 180 infants and children.

To protect yourself from catching and spreading influenza this season, the Department of Public Health recommends:
  1. Getting a flu shot.
  2. Washing hands regularly.
  3. Covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing.
  4. Staying home if you’re sick

 There is no way to predict the seriousness of flu activity this year, but this highly contagious illness can spread to anyone. Symptoms usually include fever, cough, stuffy nose, body aches and general fatigue that lasts from a few days to a few weeks. However, in some cases, the illness is more severe and life threatening. These instances often happen to those ages 65 or older, people with chronic medical conditions and young children.

Get Vaccinated
Flu vaccines have a long track record of safety and provide the best opportunity to strengthen an individual’s immune system. Scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice analyze circulating influenza viruses to recommend the composition of the annual flu vaccine. By “matching” the composition of the vaccine with the viruses in circulation, the scientists can improve effectiveness for all.

The Department of Public Health will offer two types of flu shots this season, including:
  • Quadrivalent Influenza Vaccination – Designed to protect against the four most prevalent viruses in circulation, this vaccination is appropriate for all individuals ages 6 months or older. Cost is $36.
  • High-Dose Influenza Vaccination – Designed for those age 65 or older, this vaccination contains four times the amount of antigen in the regular quadrivalent shot to boost the body’s ability to create antibodies against the illness. Cost is $66.

It takes approximately two weeks for flu vaccine antibodies to develop, so a shot received this month can begin protecting you before the onset of the “season,” which typically runs from November through March.

How to Get Vaccinated
The Department of Public Health’s Immunization Clinic is open by appointment from 8:30 to 11 a.m. and 1:30 to 4 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with a limited number of walk-in clients accepted from 8:30 to 11 a.m. and 1:30 to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays. To make an appointment, please call 636-949-1857.

Services through the Immunization Clinic are payable by cash, check or credit card (includes a service fee). For those with private insurance, the Immunization Clinic can bill your provider, although the clinic may be considered out-of-network.

Wash Up and Cover
Regular hand washing with soap and clean, running water will help prevent the spread of illnesses like influenza. Follow these simple steps to ensure proper procedure:
  1. Wet hands with clean, running water.
  2. Apply soap and lather by rubbing hands together.
  3. Scrub hands for at least 20 seconds (about how long it takes to say the ABCs).
  4. Rinse hands with clean, running water to remove germs, dirt and excess soap.
  5. Dry hands thoroughly with a paper towel, hand towel or air dryer.

Studies show that the flu virus can live for up to eight hours outside the body. To keep the virus from spreading when you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue and dispose of soiled tissues after using. A second option is to sneeze or cough into the crook of your sleeve. You should wash your hands or use sanitizer after tossing the tissue.

Stay Home
It may go against your instincts, but another effective way to stop the spread of the flu is to fight it by staying in bed. People with flu can spread it to others up to about 6 feet away, and you can even spread the virus to others when you don’t show any symptoms. Individuals may be able to infect other people beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after becoming sick. If you do happen to get sick this year, stay home and avoid contact with others until at least 24 hours after your fever subsides to keep them from getting sick as well.

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