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How and when to seek care for Flu 


 

From the Kent County Health Department and area hospitals

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports flu is now widespread throughout Michigan and many surrounding states. Area hospitals, urgent care facilities and doctor offices are experiencing an increase in the number of people presenting with flu and flu-like symptoms. They give tips below on preventing it and caring for yourself if you get it. Also note, in order to help limit exposure to flu, area hospitals and clinics are also limiting the number of visitors patients can have visit them or accompany them. All the info is below.

It is important for our community to know how to prevent flu, when to seek care and where to seek care. Although the flu shot does not always prevent the flu, it can lessen the severity and duration. There is still time to get the flu shot if you have not done so already. 

WHAT IS FLU:

Influenza is a respiratory illness. It is especially harmful to children, people over 65 years of age, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems or chronic conditions. Common symptoms include: 

  • Fever (but not everyone will have fever)
  • Cough 
  • Sore throat 
  • Runny or stuffy nose 
  • Body aches 
  • Headache 
  • Chills 
  • Fatigue 
  • Sometimes diarrhea and vomiting 

PREVENTING FLU: 

Area health care providers and the CDC recommend the following to avoid flu: 

  • Get a flu shot. 
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. 
  • If you are sick, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever/symptoms are gone and you have stopped taking fever reducers. 
  • Take extra precautions to stay away from children, people over 65 years of age, 
  • pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems or chronic conditions. 
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Throw the tissue away after it has been used and wash your hands. 

WHEN TO SEEK CARE:

Most people with flu will have a mild illness and can treat symptoms by staying home and avoiding contact with others. 

If you have flu-like symptoms and are in a high risk group or are very sick, contact your health care provider, such as a doctor, physician assistant or nurse. 

If you are in a high risk group, contact your health care provider early in your illness. 

Seek emergency medical treatment if you experience emergency warning signs, such as: 

In children 

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing 
  • Bluish skin color 
  • Not drinking enough fluids 
  • Not waking up or not interacting 
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held 
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough 
  • Fever with a rash 

In addition to the signs above, get medical help right away for any infant who has any of these signs: 

  • Being unable to eat 
  • Has trouble breathing 
  • Has no tears when crying 
  • Significantly fewer wet diapers than normal 

In adults 

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath 
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen 
  • Sudden dizziness 
  • Confusion 
  • Severe or persistent vomiting 
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough 

WHERE TO SEEK CARE:

Try to treat your illness at home with over-the-counter fever and pain reducers, cough medicine and other products. If you are in a high-risk group or cannot control symptoms, seek non-emergency care through one of the following: 

  • Primary care provider office 
  • Urgent care 

If you or a loved one experiences the emergency warning signs above, seek immediate care at a hospital emergency room. 

EMERGENCY SERVICES: 

If you are experiencing shortness of breath, numbness, facial or arm paralysis, slurred speech or other heart attack or stroke symptoms, call 9-1-1 for immediate medical care. 

LIMITING EXPOSURE BY LIMITING VISITORS

Grand Rapids area hospitals are working to meet the challenge of caring for our community during this CDC-declared flu epidemic. One of the most important tools in fighting the transmission of flu is limiting exposure. 

The flu can be especially dangerous to the young, frail or elderly. For the safety of patients and staff, Spectrum Health, Mercy Health, Metro Health – University of  Michigan Health, Mary Free Bed and Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services are limiting visitation to their hospitals. In addition, they are asking patients to limit the number of people who accompany them to office and clinic visits. 

Visitors are asked to respect the following restrictions: 

  • If you are ill or have been exposed to someone who is ill, please refrain from visiting the hospital. 

All visitors are expected to be healthy and the hospitals are taking active steps to protect patients, staff and visitors. A healthy visitor is someone who does not have the following symptoms: 

  • Fever, greater than 100.4 F 
  • Cough 
  • Sore throat 
  • Runny nose or congestion 
  • Vomiting or diarrhea 
  • Rash or draining sores 
  • Only healthy visitors should visit patients in the hospitals or outpatient clinics 
  • Hospitals strongly recommend only two visitors or family members visit a patient at a time in order to limit exposure to patients, visitors and family members. 

These conditions apply to visitors at all Grand Rapids area hospitals and at all Spectrum Health hospitals outside of Grand Rapids and are effective until further notice. These measures are designed to protect vulnerable patients. 

To avoid getting influenza, Kent County area physicians recommend: 

  • Get your seasonal influenza vaccine 
  • Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly 
  • Avoid contact with people who have flu-like symptoms 
  • Get plenty of rest 
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet 

Influenza Facts 

  • Most symptoms can and should be treated at home. Only the most severe illnesses require a visit to an urgent care location or emergency department. 
  • It will take anywhere from five to 10 days for the illness to run its course 
  • Most people who contract influenza should try to stay home, rest, drink plenty of liquids and take acetaminophen or an anti-inflammatory medicine.

For more info go to https://www.cdc.gov/flu/

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Flu Shots Available at the Cedar Springs School Health Center!


csps-fightflu

As a parent, you feel helpless when your child is sick and the flu can hit children hard, leaving them feeling miserable. Symptoms last for several days and include fever, chills, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, cough, muscle or body aches, and fatigue.

Getting an annual flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu. Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations. It takes approximately 2 weeks for the vaccine to be effective, so it’s important to vaccinate early in the flu season.

The Cedar Springs School Health Center offers flu shots for your child. Call us today at 696-3470 to schedule an appointment! We have appointments available before, during and after school hours.

Not available to take your child to the appointment?  Not a problem! As long as a consent form is on file, we are happy to see your child without a parent or guardian present.  The school even provides transportation to the Health Center during school hours!

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MDHHS reports first pediatric flu death of season; Urges individuals to get vaccinated


From the MDHHS

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services confirmed this week that the first influenza-associated pediatric death of the 2015-2016 flu season has been reported in Michigan. This is an unfortunate reminder of how serious influenza can be, and MDHHS is reminding residents that it is not too late to get vaccinated for flu this season.

The reported death was a school-aged child from the Southeast region of Michigan. Although this flu season has been relatively mild in Michigan so far, flu viruses are circulating in the community and can cause serious illness, hospitalization, and death. MDHHS strongly recommends that everyone aged 6 months and older get a seasonal flu vaccine.

Nearly three quarters of the positive influenza specimens confirmed by MDHHS Bureau of Laboratories this flu season have been the 2009 H1N1 virus. This virus can cause severe flu infections in children and in young- and middle-aged adults. The 2015-2016 flu vaccines are a very good match to the flu viruses that are circulating nationally. Flu vaccine is the best way to prevent getting the flu and can also reduce the severity of flu illness.

Although flu vaccine is recommended for everyone aged 6 months and older, vaccine is especially important for persons at increased risk for complications from flu, including children, adults aged 65 years and older, persons of any age with underlying medical conditions, and pregnant women. Children less than 6 months of age are too young to be vaccinated and need to be protected by vaccination of their close contacts, including parents, siblings, grandparents, child care workers, and healthcare personnel.

We need to do everything we can to prevent pediatric deaths from influenza, and flu is a vaccine-preventable disease,” said Dr. Eden Wells, Chief Medical Executive for the MDHHS. “Vaccine is the best way to protect against getting the flu, and there is still time to get vaccinated this flu season.”

In the 2014-2015 flu season, only 44 percent of Michigan residents were vaccinated against flu, putting Michigan in 40th place in the country. MDHHS urges residents to make sure they protect themselves and their families against getting flu this season.

There is still plenty of flu vaccine available. To find flu vaccine near you, call your healthcare provider, local health department, or check the Health Map Vaccine Finder at http://flushot.healthmap.org. For more information about the flu, visit www.michigan.gov/flu.

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Cold and Flu Season Ahead.  


 

When To Keep Your Child Home From School: 

A temperature of more than 100.5 degrees orally

Nausea or vomiting

Stomach ache or abdominal cramps or pains

Diarrhea (more than 3 stools in 24 hours)

Pale or flushed face

Headache

Persistent cough

Ear ache

Thick yellowish discharge from nose

Sore throat

Rash or infection of the skin*

Red or pink eyes

Loss of energy or decrease in activity

Shortness of breath or wheezing

Stiff back or neck

Chills

*Note—if your child has a sore/wound that is not draining and can be covered with band-aid/clothing, he/she may return to school. Pl

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Flu may have contributed to nine deaths in Kent County 


 

The Kent County Health Department announced last week that preliminary testing shows complications from influenza virus may have contributed to nine recent deaths. Six of these deaths were individuals from Kent County; three were from neighboring counties. There are over 1900 reported flu cases in Kent County so far this season.

“Most of the deaths reported to us have been elderly patients with pre-existing medical conditions,” says Adam London, Health Officer for the Kent County Health Department. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had recently reported that this year’s flu is particularly hard on older adults. “It is so important for us to check on our elderly family members, friends and neighbors, even if it’s just a daily phone call. We also should remember that the flu can also have a deadly impact on the young and those with compromised immune systems. You can protect others by protecting yourself: get a flu vaccination.”

The total number of flu cases reported to KCHD as of January 10, 2015 was 1,976.  New cases reported during the week ending January 10, 2015 was 355, compared to 581 during the previous week, and 625 during the week ending December 27, 2014.

The flu can have serious complications for children under the age of five, the elderly, and people with already-weakened immune systems. Signs and symptoms can include:

• Fever

• Chills

• Cough

• Sore throat

• Runny or stuffy nose

• Muscle or body aches

• Headaches

• Fatigue (very tired)

• Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults)

The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone over 6 months of age to protect against flu viruses. The Kent County Health Department seasonal influenza program provides vaccinations for all individuals six months of age and older. The cost of the vaccine ranges from $39-$55; FluMist nasal spray (a live, preservative-free, four strain vaccine) is available for $41.

Children from six months through 18 years who have no insurance, or who have insurance that doesn’t cover vaccines, will pay a sliding scale administration fee of up to $23. The Health Department can only bill Medicaid and Medicare; private insurance is not accepted. Cash, check, MasterCard, Visa, or Discover are accepted.

To make an appointment at any of their four clinic locations, call (616) 632-7200. You can also schedule online at www.stickittotheflu.com. Most primary care providers and many local pharmacies also provide influenza vaccinations and can bill private insurance.

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Over 800 cases of confirmed flu in Kent County


 

 

The Kent County Health Department (KCHD) has received 813 reports of influenza that were confirmed by rapid tests by health care providers this flu season. Nearly 17 percent of people visiting emergency departments in Kent County last week were suffering from influenza-like illness. This is the highest percentage tracked by KCHD since the H1N1 Influenza season in 2009. From September 1, 2014, through December 22, the number of confirmed cases of flu reported to KCHD was 415.

Flu viruses spread when people with flu cough, sneeze, or even talk. “The virus can live on some surfaces for up to 48 hours,” says Adam London, Administrative Health Officer for the Kent County Health Department. “If you are sick, stay home until you recover, and limit contact with people who are not sick. The absolute, best protection from the flu is vaccination.”

There is no cure for the flu, but there are anti-viral medications that can help people recover faster if they are taken within the first 24-48 hours of getting sick.

The flu can have serious complications for children under the age of five, the elderly, and people with already-weakened immune systems. Signs and symptoms can include:

• Fever

• Chills

• Cough

• Sore throat

• Runny or stuffy nose

• Muscle or body aches

• Headaches

• Fatigue (very tired)

• Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults)

The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone over 6 months of age to protect against flu viruses.

The Kent County Health Department seasonal influenza program provides vaccinations for all individuals six months of age and older. The cost of the vaccine ranges from $39-$55; FluMist nasal spray (a live, preservative-free, four strain vaccine) is available for $41.

Children from six months through 18 years who have no insurance, or who have insurance that doesn’t cover vaccines, will pay a sliding scale administration fee of up to $23. The Health Department can only bill Medicaid and Medicare; private insurance is not accepted. Cash, check, MasterCard, Visa, or Discover are accepted. To make an appointment at any of our four clinic locations, call (616) 632-7200. You can also schedule online at www.stickittotheflu.com.

Most primary care providers and many local pharmacies also provide influenza vaccinations and can bill private insurance.

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What You Should Know for the 2014-2015 Influenza Season


HEA-Flu-take3-press-1

From the CDC

 

When will flu activity begin and when will it peak?

The timing of flu is very unpredictable and can vary from season to season. Flu activity most commonly peaks in the U.S. between December and February. However, seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and continue to occur as late as May.

What should I do to prepare for this flu season?

CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease. While there are many different flu viruses, the seasonal flu vaccine is designed to protect against the main flu viruses that research suggests will cause the most illness during the upcoming flu season. People should begin getting vaccinated soon after flu vaccine becomes available, ideally by October, to ensure that as many people as possible are protected before flu season begins.

In addition to getting vaccinated, you can take everyday preventive actions like staying away from sick people and washing your hands to reduce the spread of germs. If you are sick with flu, stay home from work or school to prevent spreading flu to others.

What should I do to protect my loved ones from flu this season?

Encourage your loved ones to get vaccinated as soon as vaccine becomes available in their communities, preferably by October. Vaccination is especially important for people at high risk for serious flu complications, and their close contacts.

Children between 6 months and 8 years of age may need two doses of flu vaccine to be fully protected from flu. Your child’s doctor or other health care professional can tell you whether your child needs two doses. Children younger than 6 months are at higher risk of serious flu complications, but are too young to get a flu vaccine. Because of this, safeguarding them from flu is especially important. If you live with or care for an infant younger than 6 months of age, you should get a flu vaccine to help protect them from flu.

When should I get vaccinated?

CDC recommends that people get vaccinated against flu soon after vaccine becomes available, preferably by October. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the flu.

Those children 6 months through 8 years of age who need two doses of vaccine should receive the first dose as soon as possible to allow time to get the second dose before the start of flu season. The two doses should be given at least 4 weeks apart.

What kind of vaccines will be available in the United States for 2014-2015?

A number of different manufacturers produce trivalent (three component) influenza vaccines for the U.S. market, including intramuscular (IM), intradermal, and nasal spray vaccines. Some seasonal flu vaccines will be formulated to protect against four flu viruses (quadrivalent flu vaccines).

Are there new recommendations for the 2014-2015 influenza season?

Starting in 2014-2015, CDC recommends use of the nasal spray vaccine (LAIV) for healthy* children 2 through 8 years of age, when it is immediately available and if the child has no contraindications or precautions to that vaccine. Recent studies suggest that the nasal spray flu vaccine may work better than the flu shot in younger children. However, if the nasal spray vaccine is not immediately available and the flu shot is, children 2 years through 8 years old should get the flu shot. Don’t delay vaccination to find the nasal spray flu vaccine.

How much flu vaccine will be available this season?

Flu vaccine is produced by private manufacturers, so supply depends on manufacturers. For this season, manufacturers have projected they will provide between 151-159 million doses of vaccine for the U.S. market.

When will flu vaccine become available?

Flu vaccine is produced by private manufacturers, so the timing of vaccine availability depends on when production is completed. If everything goes as indicated by manufacturers, shipments may begin as early as July or August and continue throughout September and October until all of the vaccine is distributed.

Where can I get a flu vaccine?

Flu vaccines are offered by many doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, pharmacies and college health centers, as well as by many employers, and even by some schools.

Even if you don’t have a regular doctor or nurse, you can get a flu vaccine somewhere else, like a health department, pharmacy, urgent care clinic, and often your school, college health center, or work.

For more info visit www.cdc.gov/flu/.

 

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Fifth Flu-Related Death Reported in Kent County


GRAND RAPIDS – The Kent County Health Department received notification today of a fifth flu-related death: a man from Kent County over the age of 50. The initial test confirms the man was suffering from Influenza A/H1N1, the predominant strain people have been catching this season. The health department has no medical history on the man, so it is unclear if there were any known underlying medical conditions in this case.

“Health care providers report a leveling-off of cases of flu-like illness in recent weeks, but we still need to practice prevention,” says Adam London, Administrative Health Officer for the Kent County Health Department.

“In some years, we see flu season peaks as late as March. If you are suffering from the symptoms, consider seeking help from a health care provider, and stay home until you recover.” Kent County had five known flurelated deaths in the 2009-2010 season, the initial year that the H1N1 strain was circulating. There were no deaths reported in Kent County in 2012-2013.

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. Flu viruses can spread when people with flu cough, sneeze, or even talk. Someone might also get flu by touching a surface or object (like a phone) that has flu virus on it, and then touching their own mouth, eyes, or nose. Signs and symptoms can include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue (very tired), vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults). If you think you have the flu, try to limit spreading the illness. Do not go to school or work until you recover.

The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone over 6 months of age. The influenza vaccine this year is highly effective protection against the flu, including H1N1. It takes 10 – 14 days after receiving the vaccination for a person to develop immunity. This is why you often hear people wrongly claim that they got the flu from the flu shot. Multiple studies have confirmed that the flu vaccine does not cause influenza. People can, however, become ill from exposure to contagious people during those 10 – 14 days before their immunity develops.

Some children ages 6 months to 2 years old may require two doses of vaccine (parents should check with a health care provider for details).

The Kent County Health Department seasonal influenza program provides vaccinations for all individuals six months of age and older. Vaccines start at $25 for injection, and $33 for FluMist nasal spray. To make an appointment at any of our five clinic locations, call (616) 632-7200. You can also schedule online at www.stickittotheflu.com. Flu information is also available on our information only line at (616) 742-4FLU (358).

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H1N1 detected in three recent deaths


 

From the Kent County Health Department

Testing has confirmed three recent deaths in people over the age of 50 in Kent County who were suffering from influenza A (H1N1) virus. Two of the individuals also had other known medical complications; we do not have a medical history yet on the third person. There are over 400 reported flu cases in Kent County so far this season, and of those reported, at least 26 people have been hospitalized.

“In two of these cases, we are certain there were additional underlying medical conditions,” says Adam London, Administrative Health Officer for the Kent County Health Department. “We have seen, in other parts of the state, healthy young adults are becoming extremely ill from H1N1, as well as several deaths.”

In late December, the CDC issued an advisory, noting an increase in severe respiratory illness among young and middle-aged adults due to H1N1 this year.

The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone over 6 months of age. The influenza vaccine this year is highly effective protection against the flu, including H1N1. The CDC recently reported that the influenza vaccination prevented approximately 6.6 million illnesses and 79,000 hospitalizations last year. It is critically important that people get a flu shot now. It takes 10—14 days after receiving the vaccination for a person to develop immunity. This is why you often hear people wrongly claim that they got the flu from the flu shot.

Multiple studies have confirmed that the flu vaccine does not cause influenza. People can, however, become ill from exposure to contagious people during those 10–14 days before their immunity develops. Some children ages 6 months to 2 years old may require two doses of vaccine (parents should check with a health care provider for details).

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. Flu viruses can spread when people with flu cough, sneeze, or even talk. Someone might also get flu by touching a surface or object (like a phone) that has flu virus on it, and then touching their own mouth, eyes, or nose. Signs and symptoms can include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue (very tired), vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults). If you think you have the flu, try to limit spreading the illness. Do not go to school or work until you recover.

The Kent County Health Department seasonal influenza program provides vaccinations for all individuals six months of age and older. Vaccines start at $25 for injection, and $33 for FluMist nasal spray. Children from six months through eighteen years who have no insurance, or who have insurance that doesn’t cover vaccines, will pay a sliding scale administration fee of up to $15. The Health Department can only bill Medicaid and Medicare. Cash, check, MasterCard, Visa, or Discover are accepted. To make an appointment at any of our five clinic locations, call (616) 632-7200. You can also schedule online at www.stickittotheflu.com. Flu information is also available on our information only line at (616) 742-4FLU (358).

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Flu cases rising in Kent County


 

 

Flu cases are rising in Kent County, and the Kent County Health Department urges parents to make sure their family is protected against the flu by getting vaccinated.

The KCHD said that we have not yet reached the peak of flu season, and the number of cases continues to rise. There are 324 reported flu cases in Kent County as of January 7; epidemiologists estimate only 8 percent of cases get reported, so the actual number could be more than 2800.

“Many adults have this misconception that the flu vaccine is just for kids, the elderly, or people who have medical conditions,” says Adam London, Administrative Health Officer for the Kent County Health Department. “Even healthy adults need protection. The CDC reports an increase in severe respiratory illness among young and middle-aged adults due to influenza A (H1N1) this year. The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone over 6 months of age.” The vaccine can take ten days to two weeks to become effective. Some children ages 6 months to 2 years old may require two doses of vaccine (parents should check with a health care provider for details).

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. Flu viruses can spread when people with flu cough, sneeze, or even talk. Someone might also get flu by touching a surface or object (like a phone) that has flu virus on it, and then touching their own mouth, eyes, or nose. Signs and symptoms can include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue (very tired), vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults). The KCHD says that if you think you have the flu, try to limit spreading the illness. Do not go to school or work until you recover.

The Kent County Health Department seasonal influenza program provides vaccinations for all individuals six months of age and older. The cost of the vaccine is $25 for injectable three strain vaccine, $29 for preservative free three strain vaccine, $30 for preservative free four strain vaccine or $33 for FluMist nasal spray (a live, preservative-free, four strain vaccine).

Children from six months through eighteen years who have no insurance, or who have insurance that doesn’t cover vaccines, will pay a sliding scale administration fee of up to $15. The Health Department can only bill Medicaid and Medicare. Cash, check, MasterCard, Visa, or Discover are accepted. To make an appointment at any of our five clinic locations, call (616) 632-7200. You can also schedule online at www.stickittotheflu.com.

Flu information is also available on an information only line at (616) 742-4FLU (358).

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