The national flu epidemic rudely greeted Indiana’s state health commissioner to public office two weeks ago.
On Dr. William VanNess’ first day of work, Gov. Mike Pence asked the retired Anderson physician for a flu vaccination the following week.
“I said, ‘No. You’re getting one tomorrow,’” VanNess told the governor.
In the week Pence was inoculated, the state health department reported 17 deaths from flu-related illnesses. As of Monday, that number had climbed to 43.
Flu season struck early, and with great ferocity. The state typically sees between seven and 30 flu deaths a year. The 2012-2013 flu season now is the deadliest in five years.
We know you’re as sick of hearing about flu vaccinations as many of your neighbors are from the bug itself. But we, and our new state health commissioner, will continue to say it: It’s not too late to get that flu shot. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for your body to develop an immune response.
“True influenza is a really harsh disease,” VanNess told us. “It’s a disease you do not want to get.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend everyone 6 months and older should get a yearly flu vaccine. School-age children are at a high risk for contracting the flu. Ample supplies for influenza vaccine are available.
But remember, if a family member falls ill with flu-like symptoms, keep him or her at home for at least 24 hours after a fever is gone.
No athletic event is too important. No job is so imperative.
As a parent, you have a responsibility to this community to isolate a sick child from others.
Ensure your family washes their hands often with soap and water. And implore them to avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
Flu season is no fun. But if we all use common sense, we’ll get through it with the least amount of pain possible.
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