Protecting Yourself and Our Community from the Flu

September 22, 2016

By Teresa Frank, RN BSN CIC Infection Control Nurse, Providence Health

Fall has begun, and flu season is upon us.

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), and we want to help our community keep it that way.

Providence Health is dedicated to making communities healthier, a big part of which includes helping educate people about prevention. There are several things you can do to protect yourself from the flu and other infections, prevent it from spreading and speed up recovery, should you contract the virus.

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. To get your flu shot, go to the Public Health Department, a walk-in clinic or pharmacy, or your physician’s office.

For a Providence physician's office near you visit www.providencephysicians-sc.com

Other important preventative measures suggested by Providence and the CDC 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 children’s toys and play areas.
  • Stay home from school or work if you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing with a tissue, your sleeve or elbow, and NOT your bare hands.
  • Call your local hospital or your primary care doctor with any questions.
Market CEO Scott Campbell getting the flu vaccine.

Providence Health is also taking the following steps at our facility to prevent the flu from spreading:

  • 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, and
  • Providing educational material to all visitors about everyday preventative actions.

If you or a loved one begins to notice symptoms...

Symtoms of the influenza virus include coughing, sore throat, fever or upper respiratory symptoms. If you are experiencing these, please see your doctor right away. Early detection is especially important for young children, elderly individuals, 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 fever is gone except to seek medical care or for other necessities.

During flu season and year-round, Providence Health is here to respond to your healthcare needs. If you have any questions or concerns about this year’s flu season, our dedicated staff can help. Visit www.providencephysicians-sc.com to find a Primary Care provider near you.

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