Flu Season Facts 2012-2013

Please read below for information on what is influenza, prevention tips and vaccine options within Cedars-Sinai Medical Group.

What is the flu (or influenza)?

The flu is caused by viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs. The flu usually spreads through the air from person to person when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks.

The "seasonal" flu is the typical influenza that occurs every year. The flu can cause mild or severe illness, and at times death.

What are the symptoms of the common "seasonal" flu?

  • Fever, headache, tiredness (extreme), sore throat, nasal congestion, body aches

Flu Prevention

How do I reduce the risk of getting the flu and other viral respiratory infections?

  • Wash hands often, especially during winter months when the flu is most common
  • Keep hands away from nose, eyes, and mouth. Viruses are most likely to enter the body through these areas.
  • Stop smoking. It irritates the lining of the nose, sinuses, and lungs, which may make the body susceptible to complications of the flu and also could affect your child's health.

"Seasonal" Flu Information:

What types of vaccines are there?

  • There are the two vaccine options during this flu season: an injectable vaccine and the FluMist ┬« nasal spray. FluMist is a live influenza virus vaccine administered intranasally. Both types of vaccines cover the primary types of flu, including the strain known as H1N1. A separate vaccine for H1N1 flu is not needed and is not available.
    • The injection can be given to anyone over the age of six-months old and is generally covered by insurance.
    • The FluMist┬« is for healthy persons two years or older, but generally not covered by insurance.
    • Persons with severe egg allergy, prior severe reaction to flu vaccine or a history of Guillain-Barre Syndrome should not receive the flu vaccine without first consulting a physician. Please inform your doctor about any egg allergies or a history of Guillain-Barre Syndrome before making your appointment.

Who should receive the seasonal flu vaccine?
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the flu vaccine for all persons over the age of 6 months old. However, the following groups are at particularly high risk and are strongly encouraged to receive the flu vaccine:

  • Infants and children with chronic health problems, including asthma, may be more likely to have a severe illness with the flu so it is especially important they receive the vaccine.
  • Pregnant women
  • Persons who live with or provide care for infants aged < six months (e.g., parents, siblings and daycare providers)
  • Health-care and emergency medical services personnel,
  • Persons who have medical conditions that put them at higher risk for influenza-related complications

How many shots are required?
Infants and children six-months through eight-years old who are receiving the vaccine for the first time, or who did not receive at least one dose of 2009 H1N1 vaccine, need two vaccinations given at least four weeks apart. All other high-risk groups require only one vaccination.

Relief of Symptoms

To relieve flu symptoms (fever, headache, extreme tiredness, sore throat, nasal congestion or body aches) we recommend:

  • Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen for fever or discomfort
  • Elevating the head of the bed
  • Sitting in a steamed bathroom
  • Sleeping with a cool mist humidifier
  • DO NOT USE over-the-counter cough and cold medications for children under four years of age. Be sure to follow instructions carefully when using cough and cold medicines for children over age four. Be sure not to give two medications containing the same active ingredients at the same time.

What won't prevent the flu or make you better faster?

  • Antibiotics. Antibiotics will not treat viral infections such as the flu. If a bacterial infection such as an ear or sinus infection develops after the flu, antibiotics may be helpful.
  • Large doses of vitamin C, zinc or other vitamins and minerals. This treatment may be unsafe for children.
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