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There are several things you can do to keep the flu at bay. Below, two Sharp-affiliated physicians answer commonly asked questions about the flu.
Dr. Kenneth Roth, an internal medicine physician affiliated with Sharp Memorial Hospital, answers the questions his patients are asking about the flu.
Should I get the flu vaccine?
I recommend patients get the seasonal flu vaccine.
Who is at risk for the flu?
Three groups are at highest risk. The first group is pregnant women. The second group includes patients with immunosuppression, such as patients on prednisone, patients taking autoimmunity medications and patients going through chemotherapy for cancer. The final group is children ages 2 through 20.
Can I use FluMist?
FluMist is available — but it’s a live virus so it’s not appropriate for everyone. Those with impaired immune systems and pregnant women should not get it.
Dr. Raymond Chinn, a Sharp-affiliated infectious disease physician, answers a few questions about the spread of the flu and offers tips on how to best prevent getting sick.
How are influenza viruses spread?
It is thought that the main way influenza viruses are spread from person to person is through coughing and sneezing. Close contact (about 3 to 6 feet or less) usually is necessary for this type of spread. A person can also be infected by the flu viruses by touching their eyes, nose and mouth with hands that are contaminated with the flu virus.
Why is it bad to cough and sneeze into my hands?
Millions of disease-causing germs are launched into the atmosphere every time someone coughs or sneezes. It is customary to cough and sneeze into one’s hands supposedly to prevent the spread of germs. But germs get onto the cougher’s hands, and are spread to telephones and doorknobs, and from there they are spread to other people’s hands and mouths.
What is the best way to cover my cough and sneeze?
You can cough or sneeze into a tissue and throw it away. Clean your hands right after. Or, cough or sneeze into the sleeve at your elbow. One hand on the opposite shoulder creates a mask at the elbow. It is best to cough into garments as the germs dry and die.
How can I avoid getting sick?
Do not touch your face (eyes, mouth, nose) as you inoculate germs that way. Stay away from people when you are sick. Clean your hands often and before you eat.
What if I care or live with someone in the high-risk group for flu complications?
Even though you are healthy and have underlying illnesses, if you live with or care for someone who is in the high-risk group of having complications from the flu, you and other members of your family should get vaccinated.
People at high risk of flu complications include:
For More Information
To learn more about Sharp's services or to find a Sharp-affiliated physician, search for San Diego doctors or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm. To find general information about flu care health, visit Influenza in Adult Health or read the Infectious Diseases News archive.