Flu season arrives

Published 3:00 am Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Flu season has officially begun, so what do Pike County residents need to do to protect themselves and others?

Amanda Pyron, assistant nursing manager of infection control and employee health at Troy Regional Medical Center, gave her top tips for protection this flu season.

“My number one tip is hand-washing,” Pyron said. “Really, really good hand-washing. Anything can be infected: buggies at the grocery store, wheelchairs– anything. That’s the number one thing I push.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“The other thing is, if you fell like you’ve got a cold or you’re running a fever, try not to go places where people are sick. That’s why we have tissues and masks for everyone coming in from outside to protect themselves so they’re not getting sick.

“And, of course, get your flu shot.”

This is the first flu season in which the CDC has advised against using the flu nasal spray, stating concerns that it may be ineffective in preventing the flu.

Following suit, TRMC will not be offering the nasal spray this season.

TRMC has also enacted a new policy for employees who have not yet gotten their flu shots to wear masks to help prevent the spread of the flu.

“We’re trying got be proactive instead of reactive,” Pyron said. “We’re trying to stop it before it becomes a problem instead of after. Anything we can do as nurses and staff to protect our patients and employees from getting sick is a good thing.”

The Alabama Department of Public Health doesn’t show any confirmed cases of the flu in Pike County yet, but does show  cases of the flu in some southwestern counties of the state.

The CDC lists several reasons for parents to make sure their kids get a flu shot.

• Influenza is more serious than the common cold. It can lead to serious complications, including hospitalization or death.

• Each year an average of 20,000 children younger than 5 years are hospitalized because of influenza complications.

• Since 2004-2005, flu-related deaths in children reported to CDC during regular flu seasons have ranged from a low of 37 to a high of 171 deaths.

• Children, especially school-aged children, are more likely to catch the flu.

• A typical flu illness can mean missing a week or more of school. Once infected, children can spread the flu to parents and siblings, other family members, and friends.

• Vaccinating your child protects people around them (like grandparents, babies or anyone with long-term health problems) who are more vulnerable to flu.

Flu shots are available in Pike County through doctors’ offices, pharmacies and the health department. They are typically covered by insurance.