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Seasonal influenza prevention

Lt. Col. Kenneth A. Ferland, 66th Air Base Group deputy commander, receives a flu shot from Master Sgt. Eddie Escamilla, Jr., a member of the 66th Medical Squadron, on base Sept. 30. The clinic has received a limited supply of vaccinations only offered to deployers, first responders and active duty units at Hanscom at this time. Public Health will notify the community when more shipments are received (U.S. Air Force photo by Mark Wyatt)

Lt. Col. Kenneth A. Ferland, 66th Air Base Group deputy commander, receives a flu shot from Master Sgt. Eddie Escamilla, Jr., a member of the 66th Medical Squadron, on base Sept. 30. The clinic has received a limited supply of vaccinations only offered to deployers, first responders and active duty units at Hanscom at this time. Public Health will notify the community when more shipments are received (U.S. Air Force photo by Mark Wyatt)

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- The 66th Medical Squadron’s Public Health office would like to remind Airmen to practice preventative measures to protect themselves and their families during the influenza season. 

Flu season usually begins in October and ends as late as May, with the peak season in January or February. Knowing how the influenza virus spreads, signs and symptoms to watch for and how to prevent spreading the virus are important.

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.

The flu virus spreads mainly by droplets, which form when people with the flu either cough, sneeze or speak. These droplets can be inhaled by people nearby. Others may also get the flu by touching a surface or object contaminated with the flu virus and then touching their mouth, eyes or nose.

People who have the flu often feel some or all of these signs and symptoms:

- Fever/Chills
- Cough
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Headaches
- Fatigue
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children)

The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated. Other preventative measures are:

- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- If possible, stay home when you are sick.
- Always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
- If no tissue is available, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve.
- Wash your hands often; this will protect you from germs.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Practice good health habits: get plenty of sleep, exercise, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious foods.

Once Hanscom receives this year's influenza vaccine, it will be available to TRICARE beneficiaries. The 66 MDS will advertise where and when the vaccines will be given throughout the base.

For more information on seasonal flu, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm. For any questions, contact the Hanscom Public Health Office at 781-225-6295.