Mission Health

Flu season is here — facts about the flu

Guest columnist
By Jerri Jameson | Jan 03, 2014
Photo by: File photo

FAQs about the Flu – Part 1:
What you might want to know about the flu: 
How serious is the flu?  Flu can cause severe illness, hospitalization and even death.  Those at high risk of severe flu illness are pregnant women, children under six months old, frail and elderly and anyone with chronic disease such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease or cancer.
What are symptoms of the flu? Flu usually comes on suddenly, accompanied by fever and chills, coughing, sore throats, muscle aches, fatigue and headaches. Nausea and diarrhea are more common in children.

How does limiting my visits to the hospital help?  Flu is a highly contagious virus that can spread from one person to another by contact or the air.  The spread of the flu can be controlled by individuals limiting their exposure to the virus. 

What is the best way to connect with patients when the limitation policy is implemented?  We ask that all children under the age of 12 and those who do not feel well please call patients rather than visit them in the hospital.
How can I help prevent myself and others from getting the flu or being exposed to the virus?  Get a flu shot.  Stay home if you are not feeling well. Flu bugs can live for two to eight hours on surfaces after someone coughs them out. Don't go back to work until 24 hours after your fever breaks to prevent infecting other people.

Practice frequent hand hygiene.  If visiting a patient, please wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before entering a room and after leaving a room.  Hand sanitizer dispensers are placed generously throughout the hospital. 

Flu vaccines are available at most primary care provider offices, drug stores, grocery stores and county health departments.    Costs may vary upon dispensing location and insurance.
Is it too late to get a vaccine shot?  Not at all. Go get a shot.
What about children?  Do they get the same vaccine?  For the first vaccination, children under 2 need two shots, spaced four weeks apart, but even one shot helps. Antibodies to the flu can appear within days after vaccination and they peak in the weeks thereafter, so there is time.
Can I get the flu even after I get the shot?  Yes. The CDC estimates the flu vaccine is on average about 60 percent effective.  However, it’s important to note that people who have been vaccinated typically have weaker bouts with the flu, even if they do get sick.
One thing to keep in mind is that if you pick up a cough or a sore throat even though you have been vaccinated, it doesn't mean the vaccination failed. There are plenty of other bugs out there that might be making you sick.

Mission Health is now limiting visitations at Mission Hospital and all Mission Health member hospitals and affiliates in the western North Carolina region.  This includes CarePartners in Asheville, McDowell Hospital in Marion, Transylvania Regional Hospital in Brevard, Blue Ridge Regional Hospital in Spruce Pine and Angel Medical Center in Franklin.  The limitation has been implemented due to the spread of influenza (flu) in our region. Many other healthcare facilities are also limiting visitation.

At this time, we are asking patients’ family and friends to please limit their hospital visits.  Anyone under the age of 12 and those who do not feel well are asked to call patients rather than visit them in the hospital.

Should flu activity continue to increase, further restrictions may be implemented.