Tips for the flu

Alyssa Pressler
  • Flu season is upon York County, resulting in the closing of some local schools.
  • Keeping clean and healthy is key, according to experts.

We are in the midst of the peak flu season, and it's certainly having an effect around York County.

According to the Center for Disease Control, flu activity typically begins in the fall but activity peaks between December and March. The flu season can last through May.

In this file photo, a nurse administers a flu shot to a York County Judicial Center employee during a flu shot clinic.

According to Angelia Kann, director for the medical assisting program at YTI Career Institute, this year the flu seems to have hit York County particularly hard. Lincoln Charter School and Helen Thackston Charter School have closed for a few days in the past few weeks due to flu outbreaks.

Flu closes Lincoln Charter School Friday

Lincoln Charter School closed Feb. 17 because of confirmed influenza and GI virus cases in the school and surrounding community, according to a post on the school's Facebook page. Helen Thackston operated on a half day schedule Feb. 2 and Feb. 6 due to the number of people out sick from the flu, according to an announcement on its website.

York City School District also has mentioned a large number of students out in the district due to the flu. At the Feb. 15 school board meeting, Jackson K-8 Principal Philip Livelsberger said the school had abnormally low attendance during January due to the flu outbreaks.

"The flu can be deadly," Kann said. She went on to say that young children and people over 65 are particularly at risk for severe flu symptoms that could have deadly results. For this reason, it is very important to understand the flu and take care of yourself, while you are sick and while others are sick, Kann said.

A few tips for preventing the flu:

  • Get vaccinated if it's not too late. 
  • Build a germ barrier: wash your hands and use hand sanitizer. 
  • Continue to eat healthy and exercise. 
  • Get plenty of rest.

Kann said there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding the flu vaccination. Many people believe that because some vaccinations involve live flu viruses they will get the flu just from having the shot. Kann said this is a myth. You probably won't get the flu from the shot, but it's important to understand the shot is not 100 percent effective.

"You have to understand there are so many strains of the flu virus, so you may get sick but you won’t get as sick as if you didn’t have the flu shot," she explained.

A few tips if you have the flu:

  • Understand flu symptoms.
  • Continue to eat healthy and exercise lightly.
  • Get plenty of rest. 
  • Drink fluids.
  • If symptoms persist, contact your doctor and ask about antiviral medications.
  • Do not go to work or school.

Understanding flu symptoms is key when you have the flu or if you think your child has the flu. Kann said flu symptoms go beyond having a cough or a stuffed nose. Typically if someone has the flu, they will feel very achy, have headaches, chills, have a fever and experience loss of appetite.

"It's not just for a short time, either; it will last for a while," Kann said. "You'll have the cold symptoms, but it will be much worse."

She understands there are children who may feign sickness to get out of school, but Kann said it should be fairly easy to tell if your child has the flu, especially if they are running a fever. If you think your child might have the flu, the safest bet is to keep them home, Kann said.

As for the schools, Kann said it's important to disinfect everything students might come into contact with or share. Toys for younger children, school computers and door handles are especially key.

For more information on the flu, Kann suggested turning to the CDC website. She cautioned against other sites because they might not be as reputable.

"Stay home until you feel better," Kann said. "There’s no sense in taking it to work or school and spreading germs."