LANSING, Mich., Jan. 28, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- With one of the worst flu seasons upon us – and the peak of the season yet to come – the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians (MAFP) is urging those who have not yet received the flu vaccine to do so soon.
"It's absolutely not too late to get vaccinated against the flu virus this year," said Dr. Karen Mitchell, a family physician and MAFP Board member. "As long as the flu virus is circulating, it's never too late."
Influenza seasons can be unpredictable, and in some years peak activity can last well into the spring. According to the Centers for Disease Control, flu season can begin as early as October and last until late May. Michigan has already reported a high level of Influenza-like illnesses throughout the state.
"There's a good match between the flu and the flu vaccine this year, which means if you get vaccinated, you are very likely to be protected against the flu," said Mitchell. "And, there's still plenty of vaccine available, so check with your primary care physician and make it a priority to get vaccinated."
Anyone over the age of six months should be vaccinated annually. It's also especially important for those at high risk, such as individuals who are over age 50, have a suppressed immune system or chronic illness, are pregnant, or are caretakers for anyone in a high-risk group.
"It's far safer to get the flu vaccine than to take a chance on getting the flu," said Mitchell.
If you do experience flu-like symptoms, there are anti-viral prescription drugs that can lessen your symptoms and shorten your illness. These treatments can mean the difference between a milder illness and a hospital stay for those at high-risk.
Stop the Spread
The easiest way to stop the spread of the virus is to get vaccinated: if you don't have the flu, you can't spread it. In addition, MAFP recommends the following steps for prevention:
- If you get sick with flu-like illness, stay home – except to get medical care or other necessities – until your fever subsides for at least 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medicines).
- Practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to prevent the spread of germs, meaning coughing or sneezing into a tissue or into the crook of your elbow—never into your bare hands.
- Wash your hands regularly.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill.
"These actions aren't a substitute for vaccination," said Mitchell, "but they will help prevent the spread of the flu virus and other illnesses."
About Michigan Academy of Family Physicians
The Michigan Academy of Family Physicians (MAFP) is the state's largest specialty physician association, with more than 3,000 members. For more info, visit: http://www.mafp.com
SOURCE Michigan Academy of Family Physicians