What is Influenza (the "flu")?
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death.
How does a person get the flu?
Flu viruses spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.
What are symptoms of the flu?
* fever (usually high)
* extreme tiredness
* dry cough
* sore throat
* runny or stuffy nose
* muscle aches
Stomach symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, also can occur but are more common in children than adults
Although the term "stomach flu" is sometimes used to describe vomiting, nausea, or diarrhea, these illnesses are caused by certain other viruses, bacteria, or possibly parasites, and are rarely related to influenza.
How can we protect ourselves from the flu?
The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease. While there are many different flu viruses, the seasonal flu vaccine protects against the three main flu strains that research indicates will cause the most illness during the flu season. H1N1 vaccine information can be found on the back of this document.
In addition, you can take everyday preventative steps like frequent hand washing to decrease your chances of getting the flu. If you are sick with flu, reduce your contact with others and cover your cough to help keep germs from spreading. Always remind your children to:
Cover their nose and mouth with a tissue when they cough or sneeze--have them throw the tissue away after they use it.
Wash their hands often with soap and water, especially after they cough or sneeze. If water is not near, use an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
Remind them to not to touch their eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs often spread this way
Disinfect surfaces frequently. Can use household disinfectant cleaners
Information about the H1N1 (swine) flu on the back →
What about the new strain of influenza: H1N1 (swine) flu?
This flu has continued to cause illness through the normally flu-free summer months. The CDC is concerned that this new flu strain may cause a more severe flu season this year. Because of this, preparations for a voluntary H1N1 vaccination effort are underway.
When will the H1N1 vaccine will be available?
This vaccine is expected to be available in the fall, likely after the seasonal flu vaccine.
Will the H1N1 flu vaccine be different than the flu shot we get every year? Yes, the vaccine will protect against the H1N1 virus only. The H1N1 vaccine is not intended to replace the seasonal flu vaccine -- it is intended to be used along-side seasonal flu vaccine
Will anyone be able to get the H1N1 flu shot?
Not initially. Vaccine availability and demand can be unpredictable and there may be limited quantities initially. So, priority groups have been established to vaccinate those individuals who have been shown to be most at risk for severe illness. School age children are in this group. Others include:
Household contacts and caregivers for children younger that 6 months of age
Healthcare and emergency medical services personnel.
All people from 6 month through 24 years of age
Persons aged 25-64 who have health conditions associated with higher risk of medical complications from influenza.
Once the demand for vaccine for the prioritized groups has been met, others may be offered the vaccine.
Where will the vaccine be available?
Plans are underway to make the vaccine available in a combination of community settings. School clinics will likely be used. More information will be shared with parents as it becomes available.
Will this vaccine be mandatory?
No, but recommended.
Where can I get more information about H1N1 flu?
Cherokee Regional Medical Center Public Health: 712-225-6459
Iowa Department of Public Health: http://www.idph.state.ia.us/h1n1/
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/