Flu Cases on the Rise - What to Do?
The 2017-18 flu season is spiking in Mount Prospect this week. Local hospital emergency rooms are overloaded and many at times are on by pass, meaning ambulances are being diverted to other hospitals because there just isn’t room to take in any more patients. It is important that all residents do what they can to prevent becoming ill.
Young children, those over 65 years of age, pregnant women and people with chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart disease or asthma are at the highest risk for complications from the flu. They especially should be vaccinated and seek medical attention early, should they become ill to avoid serious complications. In Illinois in the last week alone 133 people with the flu have been admitted to an intensive care unit, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
There has been a lot of discussion in the media this season about the effectiveness of the flu vaccine, with percentages varying widely. The Center for Disease Control reports the vaccine effectiveness at 39%, which might discourage residents from getting a vaccine. However, vaccination is still the best way to avoid getting the flu, and more importantly, the only way to decrease the severity of the illness, should you get it. Those resident who care for children, the elderly or chronically ill family members should be vaccinated as well to prevent the transmission of the disease. Flu vaccine is still available at all local pharmacies CVS, Walgreens, Osco, and Marianos. Walgreens today did report o shortage of the high-dose senior vaccine, but this specific vaccine is available at the other pharmacies.
The best way to decrease the spread of the flu is to practice frequent hand washing with warm water and soap before every meal and when you return to your home from work or any place where you are in contact with the general public. The use of hand sanitizer is another way for students and workers who do not have the ability to wash their hands frequently, to prevent the illness. If you do become ill, stay home from school or work.
If you do get the flu and are a high risk resident, please see your physician promptly. Antiviral drugs are given to those at high risk to decrease the duration of the illness and prevent serious complications. These medications are only available by prescription and must be taken within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms. The most commonly prescribed medication is Tamiflu, a pill taken twice a day for 5 days.