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Be informed and prepared during this flu season

Vaccinations are the best protection, but here are a few other tips to prevent infection and passing the virus to others:



Vaccinations are the best protection, but here are a few other tips to prevent infection and passing the virus to others:

* Wash your hands thoroughly, especially after coughing and sneezing. If you need a gauge on how long it takes to be thorough, sing Happy Birthday to yourself -- twice. That's about 20 seconds, if you prefer to count.

* Use a tissue when coughing or sneezing and throw it away after one use. If no tissue is available, use your shirt sleeve.

* If you are sick, stay home. You can spread the virus from one day before symptoms start to seven days after. The illness is generally mild for those people who aren't in a high-risk group. Plenty of rest, fluids to ward off dehydration and acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin) for muscle aches, headaches and fever reduction usually will do the trick. Fevers typically last about two to four days and it is safe to return to work or school 24 hours after fever has ended without the help of fever reducers. Those who work in the health care field or who work or live with members of high-risk groups need to stay away longer.

* For those in a high-risk group or if your illness starts to feel serious, seek help.

* People in danger of developing serious illness should avoid situations in which they could be exposed if H1N1 infection appears to be prevalent in their community.

Vaccination priority groups:

2009 H1N1:

* Pregnant women

* Caregiver and household contacts for children less than 6 months old

* Health care workers

* All people 6 months to 24 years.

* People at high risk for complications ages 25 to 64

* Residents of long-term care facilities

* People with chronic health conditions (diabetes, heart disease, COPD and asthma)

* People with immunosuppression

Seasonal flu:

* Generally anyone older than 6 months who wants a shot

* Children 6 months to 5 five years

* Pregnant women

* People older than 50 years

* People who care for people with chronic health conditions and infants less than six months old

* Residents of long-term care facilities

* People with chronic health conditions (diabetes, heart disease, COPD and asthma)

* People with immunosuppression

* Health care workers

Once demand in priority groups has been exhausted, providers may offer shots to other groups. Vaccines should be available for most people.

Source: Dallas Family Health and Polk County Public Health.



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