Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center
Questions & Answers about the 2010-2011 Flu Season
What sort of flu season is expected this year?
• Timing. Influenza season may begin early in October, peak in February and continue until May in the Northern hemisphere. Flu seasons are unpredictable and depend on many factors including strain variation and whether they match the viruses in the vaccine.
• Strains. The 2010-2011 vaccine will protect against three different flu viruses: The 2009 H1N1, that will present again, and an H3N2 virus (both Type A) and an influenza B virus. Type A strains usually cause most of the disease each year. It is expected that the 2009 H1N1 strain may again cause more severe disease in young adults and children.
What actions can I take to protect myself, my patients, and my family against seasonal flu this year?
• Get your seasonal influenza vaccine. Since flu viruses are constantly changing each season (called drift), vaccine effectiveness depends on the match between vaccine strains and the circulating strains that cause disease. During a well matched year, vaccine protects 70% to 90% of healthy adults from developing disease. Even in years when there is less than an ideal match, antibodies made in response to one strain of flu viruses can provide protection against different but related strains. Influenza vaccine is safe and effective and protects you and your family. Vaccine is recommended for all individuals over 6 months of age.
In addition, there are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza. Take these everyday steps to protect your health:
• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use alcohol-based hand foam, especially after you cough or sneeze.
• Use a tissue when touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs on your fingers spread disease.
• Avoid close contact with sick people.
• * If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
• If you have a high fever, trouble breathing, or severe illness consult your physician or go to the emergency room.