Each flu season varies, influenza is currently considered to be widespread in Minnesota. Influenza, the "flu", is primarily a respiratory disease with symptoms including fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue. Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea with influenza, though this is more common in children. Influenza is not the "stomach flu".
It is not too late to get the flu vaccine. The vaccine can be given any time during the flu season and can take up to two weeks for full protection. Current recommendations are that everyone 6 months and older get an annual flu shot. Certain high risk groups; including young children, persons 65 and older, pregnant women, medical conditions that increase risk of complications such as diabetes, heart disease or chronic lung disease including asthma, as well as persons with weakened immunity; are priority groups to receive the vaccine.
Tips to protect yourself and others from getting influenza: get vaccinated, avoid exposure to others who are sick with flu-like illness, cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or your sleeve, wash hands often with soap and water or a hand sanitizer, do not drink out the same cup as others and take special care to avoid exposing infants to persons who may be sick or to large crowds when flu is in the community.
You have the flu now what? Stay home if you are sick, rest, and drink lots of fluids. If your child has flu symptoms, watch them for worsening symptoms that require medical attention. These include difficulty breathing, irritability, lethargy or difficult to wake up, or concern that something is not right with your child. Children may need help keeping fevers under control, consult with your medical provider for instructions.
Flu vaccine is available through your medical clinic or public health and some community sites. Many health insurance plans pay for the flu vaccine. Please contact your medical provider or Wadena County Public Health at 631-7629 for more information or to get a flu vaccine. Low cost flu vaccine is available for qualifying children and adults. For more information on influenza, visit www.cdc.gov/flu.