Protecting Yourself and Our Community from the Flu

January 29, 2018

Protecting Yourself and Our Community from the Flu

By Rebecca McDonald, RN Wythe County Community Hospital Infection Preventionist

At Wythe County Community Hospital, our mission is Making Communities Healthier. One way we do this is by engaging our communities and educating people about how they can maintain good health. Since flu season is in full swing, we want to help our community stay healthy and prevent the spread of this often debilitating illness. Here are a few things you can do to protect yourself from the flu, prevent it from spreading and speed up recovery, should you get sick. 

First, get vaccinated. This is the best form of protection against the virus. While it is still possible to contract the flu after receiving a vaccination, it is less likely. Studies have shown that flu vaccinations can make your illness milder, if you do get sick. The CDC recommends that all individuals over 6 months of age get the flu shot – the nasal spray is no longer recommended. You can visit the Virginia Department of Health, a walk-in clinic, pharmacy, or your physician’s office. If you don’t have a primary care physician, visit our website WCCHcares.com and browse our Physician Finder or call 1.800.424.DOCS (3627).

Other important preventive measures you can take include:

- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, or using an alcohol based hand sanitizer

- Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing with a tissue, your sleeve or elbow, and NOT your bare hands 

- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth

- Avoid sharing food, cups or eating utensils

- Disinfect your home, especially the high-touch areas - such as door knobs, light switches, faucet handles and children’s toys

- Keep your distance from others who may be sick

- Call your primary care doctor with any questions

Wythe County Community Hospital also is taking the appropriate steps at our facility to prevent the flu from spreading. We are doing this by: 

- Providing masks to all visitors and patients experiencing flu-like symptoms 

- Setting up stations throughout the facility stocked with tissues and alcohol-based hand sanitizers

- Encouraging all patients, staff and visitors to get their flu shot if they have not already done so

- Providing educational materials about everyday preventive actions

- Discouraging those at high-risk of complications from the flu from visiting in the hospital

If you or a loved one begins to notice symptoms including coughing, sore throat, fever or upper respiratory symptoms, please contact your doctor. Early detection is especially important for young children, elderly populations, pregnant women and people with certain chronic health issues. When detected early, prescription antiviral drugs can often help treat the illness and shorten the time you are sick by one or two days. 

In addition, limit contact with others as much as possible immediately after noticing symptoms. Stay home (or keep your child home) for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone, except to seek medical care or for other necessities.

During flu season and year-round, Wythe County Community Hospital is here to help with your healthcare needs. If you have any questions or concerns about this year’s flu season, our dedicated staff can help. Simply call 276.228.0200.

For additional information about influenza, visit http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/epidemiology/influenza-flu-in-virginia/ or www.cdc.org/flu.