Young man receiving annual flu shot

Protecting Yourself and Family Members with Annual Flu Shot

Delaware’s 2017-2018 flu season saw more than 9,000 confirmed flu cases. In September, the state had already seen confirmed cases for the new flu season before it officially began on Sept. 30. Knowing this, Bayhealth Occupational Health Medical Director Parvathi Somasundaram, MD, encourages everyone over the age of six months old to get the 2018 influenza vaccine.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention says the flu shot reduces flu illnesses, visits to the doctor, flu-related hospitalizations, and missed time from school or work. Plus, Dr. Soma says the vaccine saves lives. By getting the flu vaccine, you’re not only protecting yourself and family from the flu, but other community members as well; this is known as herd immunity. “The more people who receive the vaccine, the less likely we’ll see it spread throughout the community,” Dr. Soma said. “It’s almost like you’re paying it forward by getting the vaccine. You’re playing your part in protecting the community.”

The flu virus is spread by droplets when someone with the flu coughs, sneezes or talks. Some community members may be concerned about the effectiveness of the flu shot, but Dr. Soma says the vaccination is still a person’s best bet in preventing the flu. “Each year the vaccination is modified in an effort to target the flu strains that are expected to circulate,” Dr. Soma said.

Symptoms of the flu include fever, fatigue, headache, body aches, and a runny nose. Most flu cases are mild enough that neither medical care nor antiviral medications are needed. If you do need to see your primary care physician and are confirmed as having the flu, your doctor may prescribe you an antiviral medication. Along with receiving the vaccination, community members are encouraged to avoid contact with sick people, cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, wash your hands with soap and water, and avoid touching your face.

Protecting community members from the flu is so important that Bayhealth offers free flu vaccinations to all Bayhealth employees, volunteers and medical staff. The Annual Influenza Campaign enables Bayhealth to protect patients, coworkers and family members from the flu. Staff members who forgo the vaccination are required to wear a face mask in patient-care areas until the state declares the flu season over in 2019, which is usually around April or May. “This campaign shows our commitment to the patient’s well-being,” Dr. Soma said. “We want to protect patients, visitors and each of our own families from influenza. This policy is key in keeping our patients and ourselves safe and healthy,” Dr. Soma said.

To get your flu shot, schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. To find a Bayhealth physician, visit Bayhealth's Find a Doctor page or call 1-866-BAY-DOCS (229-3627).

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