In the United States, yearly outbreaks of seasonal flu usually occur during the fall through early spring. Influenza or "the flu" is a serious contagious disease. As a doctor, I have seen many patients (from infants to seniors) suffer from serious flu complications. Every year in Sonoma County, flu leads to lost days at work and school, hospitalizations and even deaths.
Take the following simple actions to protect yourself and others during this flu season:
- Get vaccinated. The best way to prevent flu is by getting a flu vaccination each year. I urge everyone 6 months and older to get a flu vaccine this fall.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it and wash your hands.
- Don't share personal items like toothbrushes, beverage bottles or cups.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Protect others. If you are sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities.
By protecting yourself, you are also protecting others around you from what could be a life-threatening illness. Let's all work together to make this flu season as healthy and safe as possible for everyone.
Celeste Philip, MD, MPH