Tips and suggestions for this year’s flu season

WESTFIELD, Mass. (The Westfield News) – More than a week into November and the time has certainly arrived when doctors and nurses are closely monitoring the dreaded flu season.

According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), they recommend anyone who is six months or older to have a flu vaccine every year. At least 127 million doses of the flu vaccine have been distributed throughout the country.

The initiative towards people getting a flu shot is also occurring at BayState Noble Hospital. Ruth Bushey, an Infection Prevention MSN, RN at Noble Hospital, is pushing for that initiative.

“We want people to at least consider getting a flu shot,” said Bushey.

For Baystate Health, Nov. 1 was the first official day of the flu season. Baystate Health has done flu immunizations as early as September. Nov. 1 also meant that all employees and volunteers of Baystate hospitals had to wear antiviral masks to work if they have not yet received a flu vaccination.

According to Bushey, flu season ends in March 2017.

“We consider that to be the target date,” said Bushey.

However, last year the flu season extended well after March 31. The target date is a good way for Baystate to track how the flu season is going, but the longevity of it will remain to be unknown.

“There’s no way to predict that,” said Bushey.

As Baystate is in the midst of week 43 of this year, Bushey reported that she has only seen sporadic cases of the flu coming into Baystate Noble. There have been no life-threatening cases or above normal instances of influenza.

“We’ve absolutely seen that to be true so far,” said Bushey. “That’s good news.”

For Bushey, she has currently and will remain to give out the common tips to her patients that could help prevent them from getting the flu.

Bushey discussed that washing your hands after using the bathroom and avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth are important things to keep track of.

Touching common areas in public like restaurant handles and grocery handles are also something to avoid during this flu season.

While also simply avoiding close contact with someone who is sick or who may already have the flu is important, Bushey added that having plenty of water, exercising daily, and getting the proper amount of sleep is just as important.

Although the tips are common for anyone to know, they are important during the flu season especially when there is no way of completely protecting yourself from influenza.

“Sometimes we overlook the obvious,” said Bushey. “There’s no 100% guarantee that will prevent the flu.”