September 22nd 2011. School Health: Influenza
Influenza is a very contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus. Influenza symptoms can include a fever, headache, muscle pain, a runny nose, sore throat and cough. Although colds and various other viruses may cause similar symptoms, influenza weakens a person much more than other viruses. Influenza viruses spread easily through sneezing, coughing, and contact with infected people.
Washing your hands properly is the single best way to prevent the spread of germs from one person to another. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water for at least 15-20 seconds and dry well.
Some other tips to keep you healthy:
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Eat healthy, well balanced meals
- Get enough sleep
- Sneeze/cough into your sleeve…if you use a tissue remember to throw it in the garbage and wash your hands
- Remember to stay home if you are sick…return to work or school once your normal energy level returns
There is a safe and effective vaccine that protects against several strains of influenza. Influenza vaccine is safe, effective, recommended and provided free for children with certain immune system problems, certain chronic diseases, for all infants aged 6-23 months and household/regular contacts of infants aged 0-23 months. The influenza vaccine is provided free to many other groups of people.
Free influenza vaccine is available from for those individuals listed above as well as other high risk individuals starting mid- October. People not eligible for free influenza vaccine can purchase the vaccine through private clinics and/or physician offices. Please contact your local public health unit or family doctor if you have questions, to find out about drop in influenza vaccination clinics in your area and/or to book an appointment for immunization. For more information on Public Health’s influenza and clinic times and dates, visit Northern Health at www.northernhealth.ca, ImmunizeBC at www.immunizebc.ca or call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 to speak with a registered nurse.