When you or someone in your house gets a fever, cough, body aches, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, you know it’s flu season. Flu season starts when kids go back to school, peaks in January and February, and continues as late as May.
Getting a seasonal flu shot is the best way to prevent a severe case of influenza. Pregnant women, young children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk for contracting a flu and are encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as this year’s vaccine is available. The flu shot takes about two weeks to be fully effective, but lasts all season and is effective against common types of flu viruses, including H1N1.
In Indian country, our rates for getting flu shots are among the lowest in the country. The Indian Health Service has been tracking rates for several years and reports a consistent but low rate of about 33 percent to 35 percent of the Native population getting their seasonal vaccines. Among IHS health care workers, the rate has been increasing and is currently about 75 percent.
If you are one of the many people who can’t bear getting shots, then you can still take preventative measures to stay well, or if you get sick, to avoid spreading illness. Germs are mostly spread through hand to face contact, so it’s critical to wash your hands thoroughly and use hand sanitizer when it’s available. If you’re sick, stay home from work or school and sneeze or cough into a tissue, or the crook of your elbow.
If you’re planning to attend a state or county fair this fall, take extra precautions around the livestock. CDC health officials want attendees to avoid taking food and drinks into barns and to wash their hands after they’re near animals. The CDC has reported 12 new cases of swine flu this week alone, all of which came from humans working with pigs and pigs being in crowded conditions.
ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE: Rate of Flu Shots Among American Indians among lowest in U.S. – ICTMN.com.