Prevention and daily care of Flu (Influenza)
The single best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine (a flu shot) each fall. Who should get a flu shot every year:
- Adults 50 years or older
- All children aged 6-23 months
- People of any age with chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, heart or lung disease, transplant recipients, or persons with HIV/AIDS)
- All women who will be pregnant during the influenza season
- People in nursing homes
- Health-care workers involved in patient care
- Caregivers of people in high-risk groups mentioned above
Also, a few antiviral drugs are approved for prevention of the flu. These are prescription medications, and a doctor should be consulted before they are used. In addition, there are some easy things you can do to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses like the flu:
- Cover your nose/mouth with a cloth or tissue when you cough/sneeze—throw it away after use
- Wash hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing/sneezing. If you don’t have access to running water, use an alcohol-based hand cleanser
- Stay away from people who are sick
- If you get the flu, stay home from work or school
- Try not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. This is how germs often spread
Seasonal influenza vaccination
- The vaccine is safe and effective in preventing seasonal influenza and its complications.
- As serious influenza can occur even in healthy individuals, consult their family doctors and receive seasonal influenza vaccination for personal protection. As a general rule, receive a vaccine in autumn every year. About 2 weeks after vaccination, the body will develop a sufficient level of antibodies to protect against influenza virus infection.
- New strains may emerge from time to time at irregular intervals, which may cause outbreaks. Therefore, WHO recommends appropriate formulation of influenza vaccine for every influenza season.
- Wash hands with liquid soap and water properly.
- When hands are not visibly soiled, clean them with 70 – 80% alcohol-based handrub.
- Cover nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing.
- Dispose of soiled tissue paper properly in a lidded rubbish bin.
- Wash hands thoroughly after sneezing or coughing.
- Put on a surgical mask when having respiratory symptoms.
- Maintain good indoor ventilation.
- When influenza is prevalent, avoid going to crowded or poorly ventilated public places.
In addition, members of the public should maintain a balanced diet, exercise regularly, take adequate rest, and avoid smoking and overstress.
Special Info for ASTHMA Patients
- If you have asthma, you should get the flu shot when it is available. Do NOT get the nasal spray vaccine, which could trigger asthma symptoms or an attack.
- If you have asthma and get the flu, see a healthcare professional promptly, because you are at greater risk of becoming severely ill with flu complications very quickly.
- If you care for children with asthma, get the flu vaccines to protect them.
- The vaccine is safe. If you have asthma, the risks are far greater not getting the vaccine.
Should an asthma patient avoid the seasonal influenza vaccination in case it gives him/her an attack?
Children having asthma can receive inactivated influenza vaccine. People suffering from lung diseases such as asthma should receive inactivated seasonal influenza vaccine because they have an increased risk of complications if they have influenza.
Special Info for ALLERGY Patients
If you have a severe (life-threatening) allergy to eggs, or to any other substance that could be in the flu vaccine (i.e. latex, gelatin, etc.) you should check with your physician before receiving any flu vaccine. If a person reports a severe (anaphylactic) allergy to latex, vaccines supplied in vials or syringes that contain natural rubber should not be administered, unless the benefit of vaccination outweighs the risk of an allergic reaction to the vaccine. For latex allergies other than anaphylactic allergies (e.g., a history of contact allergy to latex gloves), vaccines supplied in vials or syringes that contain dry natural rubber or natural rubber latex can be administered.
Allergic reactions (including anaphylaxis) after vaccination procedures are rare. Only one report of an allergic reaction after administering hepatitis B vaccine in a patient with known severe allergy (anaphylaxis) to latex has been published. ACIP General Recommendations
For more information on egg allergies and flu vaccines visit these links:
Children with a protein allergy should stay under observation in a clinic for half an hour after receiving an influenza vaccination.
Many parents want young children to receive an influenza vaccination but are concerned that it may lead to allergies. The vaccine is safe for children unless they are extremely sensitive. Young children who are allergic to chicken eggs may experience shortness of breath or rashes. If parents are not sure, it is most safe to keep their children in the clinic for observation for half an hour.
Children between 6 months old and six years old are encouraged to receive an influenza vaccination as soon as possible. However, many children at around 6 or 7 months old have not eaten any chicken eggs yet, and parents or doctors have no ways to tell whether they are allergic to eggs. This leaves parents worried whether they should let their children have the vaccination.
Most influenza vaccines are produced in chicken eggs. This is why children who are allergic to chicken eggs, after receiving such vaccines, are more prone to develop serious allergic reactions such as increased heart rate, shortness of breath, rashes, or even sudden death for severe cases. Unless children are extremely sensitive, or have a family history of chicken egg allergy or anaphylactic reactions, fever or serious illnesses after having a vaccine, it is safe for them to receive the vaccine. It is safer for children to stay under observation in a clinic for half an hour after receiving a vaccine. In case of any allergic reactions, treatment can be provided promptly.