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Public Health encourages prevention this flu season

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- The 66th Medical Squadron’s Public Health office encourages people to practice preventative measures to protect themselves and their families during this year’s influenza season.

In the United States, flu season typically peaks from late November through March. It is important to know how the influenza virus spreads, the signs and symptoms to look for and how to prevent spreading the virus.

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

The flu virus spreads mainly by tiny droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. Once in the air, others then inhale these droplets. A person could 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
- Vomiting/diarrhea (more common in children)

In addition to the flu vaccine, other recommended preventative measures include:

- Avoiding close contact with those who are sick.
- Covering coughs and sneezes with tissues or your upper sleeve.
- Frequently washing hands to slow the spread of germs.
- Good health habits such as getting plenty of sleep, exercise, eating nutritious foods and drinking plenty of water.

Once Hanscom receives this year's influenza vaccine, it will be available to TRICARE beneficiaries at no cost.

The 66th Medical Squadron will announce when the vaccine is available via the 66th Medical Squadron Facebook page and through other means.

For more information on the influenza virus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm.