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*Flu Information* County of Morris FAQ's

COUNTY OF MORRIS
DEPARTMENT OF LAW & PUBLIC SAFETY
OFFICE OF HEALTH MANAGEMENT
P.O. Box 900
Morristown, NJ 07963
(973) 631-5485
(973) 631-5490 Fax
2012-2013 Influenza Season
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS REGARDING
SEASONAL INFLUENZA
What is seasonal flu?
Seasonal influenza, commonly called “the flu,” is caused by influenza viruses, which infect the respiratory tract (i.e.,the nose, throat, lungs). Unlike many other viral respiratory infections, such as the common cold, the flu can cause severe illness and life-threatening complications in many people. In the United States, on average 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from seasonal flu-related complications. Flu seasons are unpredictable and can be severe.
The severity of this year’s season likely stems from this year's predominant virus: H3N2, a strain known to severely affect children and the elderly. The H3N2 strain was also predominant during the 2003 - 2004 flu season and produced similar numbers of morbidity and mortality as seen thus far with the current epidemic.
How is the flu spread?
The flu is spread via droplets that enter the air after an infected person coughs or sneezes. Infection can occur when droplets are breathed in or when droplets contaminate a surface and an uninfected person touches the contaminated surface and then touches his/her eyes, nose, or mouth.
What are the symptoms of influenza?
People who have flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:
  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea
Can the flu result in medical complications?
Yes. Some of the complications caused by flu include bacterial pneumonia, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes. Children may get sinus problems and ear infections as complications from the flu.
How long are people with influenza contagious?
People can spread the flu up to 24 hours before showing signs and symptoms of infection and for a week after symptoms begin. Symptoms usually begin within 1 to 2 days after the flu virus enters the body. Illness usually lasts for 1 week in most people.
How can influenza be prevented?
Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself from the flu. The current influenza vaccine is effective against the predominant H3N2 strain. The influenza vaccine does not cause influenza, but allows the body to develop antibodies against the flu. It usually takes 1-2 weeks after administration of the vaccine for such antibodies to develop.
In addition to obtaining the vaccine, thefollowing simple preventive measures can protect you against infection:
  • Wash your hands frequently;
  • Avoid sick people;
  • Practice sneeze and cough etiquette (sneeze/cough into napkins, handkerchiefs, or unto the upper portion of your shirt sleeve);
  • Stay home if you are sick and seek medical attention;
  • Clean frequently used or touched items: phones, toys, light switches, remote controls, toilet handles, doorknobs, faucets, handles; and
  • Alcohol based sanitizers can be effective against flu according to NJ Department of Health. In order for hand sanitizers to be effective, the alcohol content should be at least 60%.
Who should be immunized?
It is advisable to always check with your physician before obtaining the vaccine. Since H3N2 appears to affect seniors and children, vaccination is especially recommended for both groups. The vaccine is recommended for the following individuals:
  • All children aged 6 months–4 years (59 months);
  • All persons aged 50 years and older;
  • Adults and children who have chronic pulmonary (including asthma) or cardiovascular (except isolated hypertension), renal, hepatic, neurological, hematologic, or metabolic disorders (including diabetes mellitus);
  • Persons who have immunosuppression (including immunosuppression caused by medications or by HIV);
  • Women who are or will be pregnant during the influenza season;
  • Children and adolescents (aged 6 months–18 years) who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy and who might be at risk for experiencing Reye syndrome after influenza virus infection;
  • Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities;
  • Persons who are morbidly obese (BMI is 40 or greater);
  • HCP (health care professionals);
  • American Indians and Alaska Natives;
  • Household contacts and caregivers of children aged younger than 5 years and adults aged 50 years and older, with particular emphasis on vaccinating contacts of children aged 6 months and younger; and
  • Household contacts and caregivers of persons with medical conditions that put them at higher risk for severe complications from influenza.
Who should not get the flu vaccine?
It is advisable to always check with your physician before obtaining the vaccine. Generally, the CDC indicates that the following groups of individuals should not receive the vaccine:
  • People who have ever had a severe allergic reaction to eggs. Make sure your healthcare provider knows about any allergic reactions.
  • People who have ever had a severe allergic reaction to influenza vaccine.
  • People with a history of Guillain–BarrĂ© Syndrome (a severe paralytic illness, also called GBS) that occurred after receiving influenza vaccine and who are not at risk for severe illness from influenza should generally not receive vaccine. Tell your doctor if you ever had Guillain-BarrĂ© Syndrome. Your doctor will help you decide whether the vaccine is recommended for you.
  • People under 65 years of age should not receive the high-dose flu shot.
  • People who are under 18 years old or over 64 years old should not receive the intradermal flu shot.
  • If you are sick with a fever when you go to get your flu shot, you should talk to your doctor or nurse about getting your shot at a later date. However, you can get a flu shot at the same time you have a respiratory illness without fever or if you have another mild illness.
Is it too late for me to get a flu shot?
No. Seasonal influenza cases usually peak during the months of January and February. Seasonal influenza can last as late as May.
Can the flu shot give me the flu?
No,a flu shot cannot cause flu illness. The viruses contained in flu shots are inactivated (killed), which means they cannot cause infection. Flu vaccine manufacturers kill the viruses used in the flu shot during the process of making vaccine, and batches of flu vaccine are tested to make sure they are safe. In randomized, blinded studies, where some people got flu shots andothers got saltwater shots, the only differences in symptoms was increased soreness in the arm and redness at the injection site among people who got the flu shot. There were no differences in terms of body aches, fever, cough, runny nose or sore throat.
Where can I obtain a vaccine?
Flu vaccine clinics can be located by using the NJ Department of Health clinic finder at:
The site is routinely updated. Local health departments can also provide information on available clinics. A listing of local health department numbers is available at:
Some local health departments have vaccines along with local pharmacies and medical providers. Vaccines are readily available at many pharmacies. There are no shortages for antiviral medications used to treat influenza-like illness.
Pediatric doses are available at pediatric practices and at CVS Minute Clinics. Pharmacists are prohibited from administering the inoculation to children; however, Nurse Practitioners who staff Minute Clinics can immunize pediatric patients.

Can the flu be treated?

Yes. There are prescription medications called “antiviral drugs” that can be used to treat influenza illness.

What are antiviral drugs?

Antiviraldrugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaled powder) that fight against the flu in your body. Antiviral drugs are not sold over-the-counter. You can only get them if you have a prescription from your doctor or health care provider. Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics, which fight against bacterial infections.
Where can I obtain more information on influenza?
Information can be obtained from your local health department. Additional influenza information can be found at the following links:
Sources: NJ Department of Health
US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
Issued: January 16, 2013

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