Story by TSgt Heather Redman on 10/10/2018JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, HawaiiThe weather may not be changing much and there is no need for a sweater, but flu season is still just around the corner and research shows it's better to get vaccinated early.
According to the State of Hawaii, Department of Health Disease Outbreak Control Division, the flu, is caused by the influenza virus, which infects the respiratory tract. Unlike many other viral respiratory infections, such as the common cold, the flu can cause a more severe illness and possibly life-threatening complications.
Maj. Vicki Charonneau, 15th Aerospace Medicine Squadron public health flight commander, recommends everyone take preventative measures to protect themselves, family and wingman from spreading the disease.
"Get vaccinated, get vaccinated, and don't forget to get vaccinated," said Charonneau. "The flu vaccine can prevent you from catching the virus or at least reduce the severity of the flu should you contract it."
The flu vaccine has been shown to reduce flu related illnesses and the risk of serious flu complications that can result in hospitalization or even death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends everyday preventive actions.
Along with getting vaccinated, the CDC also recommends the following preventative measures:
Wash your hands
Avoid people who are sick
Avoid touching your face
Covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing
Keep common surfaces like door knobs clean
Taking preventative measures will not only help you, but it will also help protect people who cannot get a vaccine.
"Children younger than 6 months, elderly people, and those with severe, life-threatening allergies to components of the flu vaccine are considered not eligible," said Charbonneau. "But we can help them stay healthy by making sure we get our vaccines and by taking preventative measures."
Since 2010, the CDC estimates that flu has resulted in between 140,000 and 710,000 hospitalizations each year.
If you have the flu, the 15th Medical Group recommends avoiding contact with others and staying at home until the fever is gone for at least 24 hours. Anyone who is at high risk for complication, very sick or concerned should contact their primary care provider.
Some of the most common symptoms to look out for include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, chills and fatigue.
If you contract the flu, appointments can be made online at www.tricareonline.com or by calling the Military Health Care System at (888) 683-2778. The Nurse Advice line, 1-800-TRICARE, can provide you with health care advice, and give recommendations for care. In situations where a health condition or injury may become a more serious risk to their health if left untreated, Tricare recipients should also visit the Emergency Room or Urgent Care Centers.