Local health officials say flu season is approaching

The federal government's flu vaccine finder can help at-risk individuals be prepared. www.flu.gov.

The federal government’s flu vaccine finder can help at-risk individuals be prepared. 

It is that time of year when health experts like the Kansas City Health Department remind everyone how to protect themselves and their loved ones during flu season.

“As flu season approaches in our area, it’s important to remember the basics to stay well,” said Gary Zaborac, director of public health, Clay County Public Health Center, in a news release. “Simple actions such as washing your hands frequently, covering your cough or sneeze with the bend of your elbow and staying home when you are not well go a long way in slowing the spread of illness.”

Here are other steps health experts say individuals can take to slow the spread of germs and prevent illness:

  • Get your flu vaccine if you haven’t already done so.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you or your child gets sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone, except to get medical care or for other urgent necessities. The fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.
  • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs, like the flu.

If you do become ill with symptoms of the flu (fever, cough, muscle/body aches, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, fatigue), contact your health care provider within 48 hours to see if antiviral medications would be appropriate. This is especially important for those who are at high risk of complications from the flu – children under age 5, adults over age 65, pregnant women and those with a chronic disease or weakened immune system.

Many health departments in the Kansas City metro area have flu vaccine available. Contact the health department in your community for vaccine availability and clinic hours or go to www.flu.gov to find a vaccine provider near you.

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