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Flu Prevention


The 19th Medical Group encourages Airmen and their families to take preventative steps to reduce the risk of contracting the flu.(U.S. Air Force graphic by Airman 1st Class Codie Collins)


In Arkansas and across the United States, influenza (flu) activity has significantly increased over recent weeks.  Likewise, the 19th Medical Group and local hospital emergency departments are also seeing an increase in flu and flu-like illness.  The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) has reported over 38,000 positive flu cases so far this season.  With at least another month left in the flu season “peak,” we should remain vigilant.

Common symptoms of flu include fever (100F or greater), cough, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue.

In accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, the 19th Medical Group recommends the following actions to protect personnel and prevent the spread of flu.

Get a flu vaccination.

It is not too late to get a flu vaccination.  While it is not 100% effective at preventing flu, it can reduce flu illnesses, flu-related doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu; help prevent flu-related hospitalizations; and help slow the spread of the disease in the community. The flu shot cannot give you the flu. It may cause mild side effects that are sometimes mistaken for the flu; however, these symptoms (if experienced at all) usually last for 1-2 days after vaccination and are much less severe than actual flu illness.

Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs.

Try to avoid close contact with sick people, and if sick yourself, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.  Stay at home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone (without the use of fever-reducing medication)-except to get medical care or for other necessities.  Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and discard used tissues in the trash.  Wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.  Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth to prevent the spread of germs.  Additionally, clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs.

Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them.

Most healthy people who get the flu can recover at home with supportive care (hydration, rest, over the counter medications, etc.) and do not need to be treated with antiviral drugs.  However, if you have a severe illness or are at high risk of serious flu complications and get the flu, you should seek medical care.  Your doctor may decide to treat you with flu antiviral.  High risk individuals include people who are immunocompromised, people with chronic, severe, or complicated illnesses, children younger than 2 years, adults age 65 and older, and residents of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities.  Please contact your Primary Care Team or the 24-hour Tricare Nurse Advice Line for questions and concerns at (800) 874-2273, Option 1.  For in-depth and up-to-date information on the flu in Arkansas, Please visit the ADH’s Influenza website at http://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/influenza.