According to the Centers for Disease Control, this year’s influenza three-component vaccines contain:
• A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus,
• A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 (H3N2)-like virus and a
B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus (B/Victoria lineage).
Here is what your doctor wants you to know about the flu:
* Getting an annual flu vaccine is the first and best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu. It reduces your risk of significant illness or death.
* Wash your hands. No single other thing in our lifetime has been shown to decrease the spread of all disease as much as this.
Wash them well, sing the alphabet song twice or Happy Birthday once as you scrub every inch of every angle of your hands. Wash them often: before and after you eat, whenever they are soiled and after you shake hands with others.
* Don’t touch your face: It allows viral entry. Anywhere there is a mucous membrane, there is an opportunity for a virus to enter. Keep your hands down.
* Wipe down the common surfaces in your household with a good cleaner — disinfecting wipes or a bleach/water combination.
This will help protect from the spread of viruses. Don’t forget the refrigerator door handle, which is most commonly overlooked, or the kitchen sink faucet and handles.
At the sink, you turn on the water with dirty hands and then touch the handles with clean hands, re-infecting yourself. Keep them clean.
* Be prepared. Talk to your doctor about whether or not you can get the test for the flu in the office. While it is available at urgent care and emergency rooms, not all clinics have the ability to run the flu test.
Ask if you will have to go somewhere else to get it, or if you can get a prescription for Tamiflu without the test. If it is within the first 40 hours of illness, your doctor may not want you in the office if your symptoms match. Ask if you should stay home and a prescription can be called to your pharmacy.
* Build your immune system, don’t destroy it, to be able to fight the flu and other infections.
Doing things that are bad for you are still bad. Don’t smoke. Don’t drink in excess. Don’t eat in excess. Do drink plenty of water. Do eat fruits and vegetables.
Once you’re sick:
* Know the difference between a simple upper respiratory infection and the flu. The most common differentiating factor is the rapid onset — just an hour — of influenza symptoms. You feel like you’ve been hit by a freight train with fever, fatigue and muscles aching across your body. It’s very different from a cough and runny nose that maxes out in two days. That is not the flu.
* If you are sick, quarantine yourself. Don’t expose others when you are sick. So many of us work when we are sick because there is “nobody else to do the job” or “I can’t afford not to work.” Your co-workers won’t thank you, however, when they end up sick. If you are just not feeling well, consider at least wearing a mask and not shaking hands. A fist bump spreads less disease than a hand shake, an elbow tap, less still. If you have diarrhea, stay home near your own bathroom. Nobody else wants to get it.
* Your grandmother was right: Chicken soup and orange juice have the nutrients you need to heal quickly and feel better. Crawl back into bed with these two things, eat, sleep and feel better in the morning.
Dr. Gail L. Clifford is a local physician with more than 25 years experience.