Recommendations for the 2012-2013 Flu Season

Despite the recent lingering warm weather, the 2012-2013 flu season has officially arrived and will last through March.

White County Medical Center Infection Control Nurse Mary Lou Adams, RN, said even though last year’s flu season was exceptionally mild it is difficult to predict how the upcoming flu season will develop. “Because flu strains vary from year to year, we do not have a scientific way to gauge how mild or severe this flu season will be, or when it will really hit,” she said. “The best way to protect ourselves and our family members is to get a flu shot.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, everyone ages 6 months and older should receive a flu vaccine, especially people with asthma, diabetes and chronic lung disease, pregnant women and people ages 65 and older, as well as people in the same household as those individuals.

New recommendations concerning the flu vaccine and pregnancy is that the flu vaccine is safe for an expectant mother and baby during all stages of pregnancy; and, the vaccine offers protection to the baby after birth.

“With an 80 percent effectiveness rate, the absolute best way to avoid the flu is getting the flu vaccine,” Adams said. “Be vigilant about washing your hands with warm, soapy water for 20 seconds; alcohol-based hand sanitizer serves as a good backup, too. Also, cough or sneeze into a tissue and immediately throw it into the trash, then, wash your hands. Good hand-washing is critical in preventing the spread of the flu.”

The flu is spread primarily when an infected person sneezes or coughs and the droplets move through the air and are inhaled by people within three to six feet. The virus can live on surfaces for several hours, which transfers easily to hands and can make you sick if you touch your eyes, mouth or nose.

Normal symptoms:

· a fever of more than 100 degrees that does not react to regular ibuprofen

· shortness of breath

· extreme tiredness

· general achiness and joint pain

· coughing

· nausea, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea

· headache, sore throat and a stuffy or runny nose

People at higher risk for contracting the flu:

· children and young adults from 6 months to 24 years of age

· healthcare workers

· emergency medical services workers

People who are at risk for having greater complications:

· pregnant women

· those who have chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease

· those who take medications that may suppress their immune system, such as those with HIV or undergoing chemotherapy treatment

· persons age 65 and over

For more information about the 2012-2013 flu season, please log onto and click the widget on the White County Medical Center homepage.

As the leading healthcare provider in a six-county area, White County Medical Center associates strive to create a healthy community by providing quality patient care and participating in community health events. White County Medical Center is the second-largest employer in a six-county area with more than 1,600 associates. The facility has a combined total of 438 licensed beds and a medical staff of 150 physicians that specialize in various areas of healthcare.