The following letter is from Mike Napier, Health Officer from the Florida Department of Health in Pasco County:
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The Florida Department of Health (DOH) reports that influenza or flu is spreading across the state. Flu is a contagious respiratory disease caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness. Serious outcomes of flu infection can result in hospitalization or death. Some people, such as young children, the elderly, and people with certain health conditions are at high risk for serious complications from flu. DOH is encouraging families to get vaccinated for flu now. Vaccination is most crucial for children with underlying health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions.
Vaccination is the best way to protect against the flu and severe complications from the flu. The flu vaccine is offered in many lcoations including pharmacies, clinics, employers, and schools. Contact your physician, county health department, or visit http://www.floridahealth.gov/programs-and-services/prevention/flu-prevention/locate-a-flu-shot.html to find a flu vaccine center near you.
The flu vaccine is safe. The national Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that all individuls six months of age and older receive the flu vaccine each year. Since infants under six months of age are too young to get vaccinated against influenza, it is important that family members (including pregnant or breastfeeding mothers) and other caregivers for these children be vaccinated to help protect them from the disease.
If your child becomes sick with flu-like illness, contact your health care provider soon after the onset of illness to discuss medical care options. Symptoms of the flu often include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headaches, or fatigue. Antiviral medication for flu has been shown to reduce severity and length of disease decrease the risk complications from influenza, and reduce the risk of death among hospitalized patients, particularly in those that access care early in their illness. If your child is at risk for severe complications from flu infection, your health care provider may recommend treatment with antiviral medication.
It is especially important that parents keep sick children at home to prevent spreading the flu virus to others. Additional flu prevention steps include staying away from people who are sick, covering sneezes or coughs with a tissue or your elbow, avoid touching your eyes, nose and month, and frequent handwashing.
The best way to keep yourself and your family safe and healthy during flu season is to:
contact your health care provider if you or your child are experiencing flu-like symptoms,
keep sick family members home, and
follow your physician's guidance on treatment
For more information, please visit http://cdc.gov/flu/parents/index.htm
Additional Information can be found at http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/influenza/flu-resources.html