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Flu Infographic 2018-2019

Be Flu-less, Not Clueless

Flu season is here again and if this year is anything like last year, expect it to be brutal. The 2017–2018 flu outbreak was not only widespread, but severe.

Of all the U.S. areas reporting, 93% noted widespread influenza during the peak period of the season, from December 23, 2017 to April 7, 2018. That means the threshold reached epidemic status for a total of 16 consecutive weeks, including record rates for influenza-related hospitalizations.

To help make sure you don’t add to this year’s numbers, view our infographic to arm yourself with the facts. Even if you can’t keep your family totally flu-free, you can at least learn how to decrease downtime, avoid infecting others, and limit the impact of this season’s outbreak.

Let’s Start with the Basics

What we refer to as the “flu” is actually four different types of influenza virus. Of these, only three infect humans.

The most common types of human influenza are type A and type B viruses. These account for the majority of our nation’s seasonal outbreaks. The third flu virus infecting humans is type C, which typically results in milder cases and is unlikely to cause an epidemic. The fourth, influenza D, targets only cattle.

A Pound of Prevention

The old saying, “an ounce of prevention,” may fall short when it comes to preventing the flu. This is because the flu virus typically gets passed from one person to the next before the symptoms become noticeable. Those infected may be contagious for up to one day prior to symptom development, and for as long as seven days after development.

For this reason, it’s important to protect yourself and others, all season long. Here’s how:

  1. Get the latest flu vaccine.
  2. Follow basic prevention tips, such as routine hand-washing, and disinfecting smartphones and keyboards.
  3. Never share items such as food, drinks, and toothbrushes.
  4. Sneeze into your elbow or a tissue to avoid spreading the virus.

Keep It to Yourself

Too late for prevention? If you experience any or all of the following symptoms, a specific test within the first few days of infection will help to determine the cause and, more importantly, the most effective treatment:

  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Stuffiness
  • Runny nose
  • Chills
  • Body aches
  • Fatigue
  •  In some cases, diarrhea and vomiting

Once the flu catches up with you, it’s up to you not to spread it. Follow the CDC’s guidelines, and stay home for at least 24 hours after you’re fever-free without the use of antipyretics (fever reducing medications).

Defensive Measures

Outsmarting the flu virus can be complicated, because the virus cleverly morphs whenever the body develops proper defenses. This mutation explains why the flu repeatedly infects people from one season to the next.

There’s no magic pill, either. Although an antiviral can minimize discomfort and lessen the duration of symptoms, it works best when prescribed at the onset of illness. It’s also sometimes used as a preventive measure for high risk persons who may be exposed from a close contact.

More Than a Shot in the Dark

The flu’s constant genetic changes make an effective flu vaccine difficult to pin down. It’s really a matter of just how accurately science can predict nature. In general, flu shots tend to be about 60% effective at preventing the flu each season.

Regardless, you shouldn’t rule out getting one. Those who get vaccinated but still acquire the flu tend to experience a milder form, with less severe symptoms, and for a shorter duration. They’re also more likely to avoid complications.

No need to worry that the flu virus may actually cause the flu. The vaccine contains only inactivated or weakened viruses. At worst, you may experience some temporary soreness and redness in the area of the shot. Some people also develop a low-grade fever, headache, or aching muscles. None of these symptoms comes anywhere close, however, to the full-blown impact of the actual flu.

A Small Price for Season-Long Protection

For now at least, the flu vaccine is your best shot against the flu. Given an out-of-pocket cost of about $25 to $80, it’s also a relatively inexpensive solution—especially compared to the costs of flu treatment and lost time from work due to illness.

To determine the best type of flu shot for your needs, visit your local FastMed provider. The CDC recommends that everyone six months of age and older should get either the trivalent or quadrivalent flu vaccine every year. This flu season, FastMed will be offering the quadrivalent flu shot for just $25, starting in September, with no insurance necessary. The quadrivalent flu vaccine is designed to protect against the four different flu viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season, as opposed to only three addressed by the trivalent vaccine. This means that quadrivalent could be more effective at preventing the flu this season.

Even after a flu shot, continue to take the proper precautions. The vaccine’s antibodies will take about two weeks to provide you with full protection. To learn more, contact FastMed, or simply walk in to your nearest location. You can shorten your wait time by checking in online first.

 

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About FastMed

FastMed Urgent Care owns and operates more than 100 locations across Arizona, North Carolina and Texas, providing a broad range of acute/episodic and preventive healthcare services 365 days per year. FastMed also provides workers’ compensation services at all of its clinics, and family and sports medicine services at select locations. FastMed has successfully treated more than 5.8 million patients since the opening of its first clinic in 2005, and is the largest urgent care operator to be awarded the Joint Commission Gold Seal of Approval® for accreditation in healthcare quality and safety in ambulatory healthcare. For more information about locations, services, hours of operation, insurance and prices, visit www.FastMed.com.

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