Protecting Yourself and Our Community from the Flu

October 6, 2016

It’s fall, and you know what that means – flu season. While so far this year the level of influenza-related illness across the United States has been relatively low, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this is the time of year that reports of illness typically begin to increase.

At Conemaugh Health System, our mission is Making Communities Healthier. One way we do this is by engaging our communities and educating people about how they can maintain good health. Given the fact that flu season is quickly approaching, we want to help our community stay healthy and prevent the spread of this often debilitating illness. Here are a few things you can do to protect yourself from the flu, prevent it from spreading and speed up recovery, should you get sick.

First, get vaccinated. This is the best available form of protection from the virus. While it is still possible to contract the flu after receiving a vaccination, it is much less likely. Furthermore, studies have shown that flu vaccinations can make your illness milder, if you do get sick. New this year, the CDC is recommending that all individuals get the flu shot – not the nasal spray vaccination. All Conemaugh Health System affiliated clinics and practitioners will operate in accordance with this recommendation and only offer flu shots this year. To get your flu shot, you can visit the Public Health Department, a walk-in clinic or pharmacy, or your physician’s office. If you don’t have a primary care physician, visit our website and browse our Physician Finder at conemaugh.org.redesign.in10sitybeta.net/directory-search or call  1-800-587-5875.

Other important preventative measures you can take include:

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds, or use a hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol-based
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Avoid sharing food, cups or eating utensils
  • Disinfect your home and belongings, such as door knobs, light switches, children’s toys and play areas
  • Stay home from school or work if you are sick to prevent the spread of germs
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing with a tissue, your sleeve or elbow, and NOT your bare hands
  • Get a flu shot
  • Call your local hospital or your primary care doctor or OB/GYN with any questions

Conemaugh Health System also is taking the appropriate steps at our facility to prevent the flu from spreading. We are doing this by:

  • Providing masks to all visitors and patients experiencing flu-like symptoms
  • Setting up stations throughout the facility stocked with tissues and alcohol-based hand sanitizers
  • Encouraging all patients, staff and visitors who have not done so already to get their flu shot

If you or a loved one begins to notice symptoms including coughing, sore throat, fever or upper respiratory symptoms, please see your doctor right away. Early detection is especially important for young children, elderly populations, pregnant women and people with certain chronic health issues. When detected early, prescription antiviral drugs can often help treat the illness and shorten the time you are sick by one or two days.

In addition, limit contact with others as much as possible immediately after noticing symptoms. Stay home (or keep your child home) for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone, except to seek medical care or for other necessities.

During flu season and year-round, Conemaugh Health System is here to help with your healthcare needs. If you have any questions or concerns about this year’s flu season, our dedicated staff can help. Simply call 1-800-587-5875.

For additional information about influenza, visit www.cdc.org/flu or contact the Public Health Department.