Protect yourself from the flu

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Montse Ramirez
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Living in a world of germs where viruses and bacteria surround everyone, it seems impossible to escape these microscopic infectors. Not only do they sicken people, they have the potential to impact the mission and ultimately take a life.

The best way to prevent the flu is to get the vaccination each fall, which provides 90 percent protection.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, flu season takes place from October through May and kills about 36,000 people and hospitalizes more than 200,000 people each year in the United States.

"Last year, approximately 0.1 percent of our base population was affected by the seasonal flu, most likely do in-part to the seasonal flu vaccine," said Air Force Global Strike Command member, Capt. Jessica Dees, 509th Medical Operations Squadron, chief of public health.

"It's essential for individuals to obtain the vaccine, which is the first line of defense against influenza," said Master Sgt. Louis Desomma, 509th Medical Operations Squadron NCO in charge of public health. "Prevention is our main goal."

If an individual has a fever and feels ill, Captain Dees recommends seeking medical attention as soon as possible. If diagnosed with the flu, no close contact with people is advised since the virus is contagious.

"The Whiteman mission could be negatively affected if a large percentage of our base population were ill from the seasonal flu," said Captain Dees. "If we can't do our job and support the mission, then we as a country become vulnerable to enemies and that cannot happen in our line of work."

The Air Force goal is to have 90 percent of active-duty members vaccinated by Dec. 1.

Other methods to prevent getting the flu include:

· Washing hands at least five times a day. When washing hands, aim to wash for at least 20 seconds with warm water and soap. This will protect individuals from the virus that causes the flu.

· Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches his or her eyes, nose or mouth.

· Cover mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. If no tissues are available, try to cough or sneeze into the elbow. When the hands are protected, it may prevent others from getting sick.

· If sick with a flu-like illness, the CDC recommends staying home for at least 24 hours after a fever has resolved. Notable exceptions include the seeking of medical care or requirement for other necessities. Note that the 24-hour rule requires that your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.

· While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.

Currently, high risk personnel are receiving the vaccine. The clinic anticipates recieving another shipment of the vaccination within the next few weeks.

The immunization clinic is a walk-in clinic with hours of operation between 7:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

For more information, call the clinic at (660) 687-4304.