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Locals are already wary of everything they need to know about the COVID-19 virus. Peterson Health’s Infection Prevention Specialist, Pam Burton, RN, now has plans and recommendations for the flu, the “flu season,” to add to her work.

Peterson Hospital staff are planning to track the number of influenza cases. And patients and visitors will continue to see staff wearing face masks while working, not only for COVID, but also during the annual flu season.

Burton at the Peterson Regional Medical Center tracks the number of confirmed cases of influenza in hospital facilities such as the PRMC Emergency Room and Peterson Emergency Clinic.

The first of Burton’s list is to set promises with all PRMC departments and offices to vaccinate all employees with the flu as much as possible. In addition, hospital employee badges will be labeled to indicate whether each person has been vaccinated against the flu.

“Hospital staff vaccination rates were 94% last winter,” Burton said.

Burton himself was one of the first to line up last week, and her annual flu shot was managed by a fellow nurse.

At the hospital, leaflets about influenza will be posted near all doors.

Last year, those leaflets said, “New Visit Policy / Flu Season. If you are sick and have flu-like symptoms under the age of 16, discontinue (eg stuffy nose, runny nose, sore throat, etc.) Cough, fever or chills, sore throat, malaise).

The problem with that wording this year is that we have to warn people about both COVID and flu symptoms. And people can be confused.

However, preventive tips to protect yourself from the flu remain the same.

Burton offers the following tips to help protect you from the flu:

• Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, or use alcoholic hand sanitizers.

• Cover your cough or sneeze with tissue. Or put a cough or sneeze in your sleeve.

• Avoid crowded areas if possible.

• Stay home if you are ill.

The flu season usually lasts from October to May, usually peaking in Texas in January and February.

According to Burton and state officials, people need to be vaccinated against the flu early. Don’t wait for the cold weather to come.

The Hill Country Youth Event Center, a partnership between HEB Pharmacy and PRMC, already has an early influenza vaccination clinic in Carville in a “drive-through” style.

One release with the CDC recommends that you be vaccinated against the flu by the end of October.

Burton said clinics in the Carville area should already be supplied with the flu vaccine.

For 2020-21, there are two options for vaccination this season. They include injectable flu vaccines or flu shots. Live attenuated influenza vaccine or nasal drops.

Local residents should contact their doctor’s office as soon as possible about the flu vaccine and consult with someone who lives or cares for someone who is at high risk of developing a particularly serious flu complication. There is.

Influenza vaccination usually takes about two weeks for the vaccine to take effect.

The high-risk group includes children from 6 months to 18 years. People over 50 years old, people with chronic health, residents of long-term care facilities, pregnant women.

Due to the changing influenza virus, new vaccines are designated and manufactured annually through the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Vaccination against the flu does not contain live viruses and does not cause the flu.

Efforts to reduce COVID-19 infections, such as stay-at-home orders and shelter-in-place orders, are reducing the use of routine preventive medical services, including vaccination services, according to Burton sources.

Maintaining or resuming regular vaccination during the COVID-19 pandemic is essential to protect individuals and communities from vaccine-preventable diseases and outbreaks. Regular vaccinations prevent illnesses that lead to unnecessary medical examinations, hospitalizations, and additional burdens on the health care system.

In the next influenza season, influenza vaccination is generally most important to reduce the impact of respiratory illness on the population and reduce the burden on the healthcare system during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Communicating the importance of vaccination to patients and parents / caregivers, as well as safety protocols and procedures, helps provide peace of mind to those who might otherwise hesitate to go to a vaccination visit. ..

Reducing the burden of respiratory illness during the COVID-19 pandemic is important to protect vulnerable populations at risk for serious illness, health care systems, and other critical infrastructure. is.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this year that people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should postpone regular vaccinations, regardless of their symptoms, until the criteria for discontinuing quarantine are met. I will.

Use Australia for comparison

One of the information added through Burton’s office shows a comparison that Americans may not have considered.

From www.healthline.com On the website, Burton shared the story of the headline “Why Australia was in a mild flu season and what that means for the United States.”

The high-level “bullets” start as follows:

• Authorities report that the flu season was mild this year as an unprecedented number of people were vaccinated in Australia.

• They said the low number of influenza cases helped the healthcare system continue to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

• Experts say the United States needs to follow Australia’s example of vaccination.

This comparison is possible because the Australian season is “backward” (Southern Hemisphere) from the United States. Healthcare professionals and organizations in the United States can track Australian statistics from recent fall and winter (April-October, usually peaking in August).

For more information on CDC, please visit: www.cdc.gov/flu; Or www.flu.govOr call 1-800-CDC-INFO.

For more information on the area, please contact Burton (258-7448) or email ( pburton @ petersonhealth.. When.

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