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Best flu treatment is prevention

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Staff Sgt. Amber Olszen, 21st Medical Group, gives Col. John Shaw, 21st Space Wing commander, his annual flu vaccine Sept. 13. The flu vaccine is an annual requirement for all military personnel. The 21st MDG had a flu vaccination line from 6 a.m.-7 p.m. Sept. 17 at the RP Lee Youth Center. (U.S. Air Force photo/Rob Bussard)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Staff Sgt. Amber Olszen, 21st Medical Group, gives Col. John Shaw, 21st Space Wing commander, his annual flu vaccine Sept. 13. The flu vaccine is an annual requirement for all military personnel. The 21st MDG had a flu vaccination line from 6 a.m.-7 p.m. Sept. 17 at the RP Lee Youth Center. (U.S. Air Force photo/Rob Bussard)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- As the aspens begin to change, winter weather is not far behind. Accompanying that wintery weather are the coughs, sniffles and fevers of flu season.

The 21st Medical Group has already begun vaccination in anticipation of flu season. Currently all medical personnel, first responders and child development center workers are being targeted. The 21st MDG had a vaccination line from 6 a.m.-7 p.m. Sept. 17 at the RP Lee Youth Center for all active duty members, administering 1,100 vaccinations. As more vaccine becomes available, the medical group will open immunization up to a larger beneficiary population. The flu vaccine is mandatory for all active duty members annually.

The best prevention against influenza is vaccination, which is recommended for everyone six months of age and older. There are two routes of delivery for the vaccine: injection or nasal spray. Age as well as other risk factors will determine which delivery method you receive. Both are considered effective by medical professionals.

Each year, between 5 percent and 20 percent of the U.S. population contracts the flu. This can cause a mild illness which keeps you from work, can be severe enough to require hospitalization, or even cause death. Current estimates range from 3,000-49,000 flu deaths in the United States each year. Although the flu can be serious, most people recover within three to 14 days of becoming ill.

Apart from a flu vaccination, good hand washing, covering your cough and staying home when ill are ways to decrease the spread of this contagious virus. If you suspect you may have the flu, the best treatments include rest, staying hydrated and treating various symptoms (Tylenol or Motrin for fever as well as body aches). Prescription medications are available, but are only known to shorten the duration of illness by one or two days. They are typically reserved for a select group of high risk patients (people with lung disease, heart disease or diabetes) who could develop serious complications related to the infection. It is best to contact your primary care manager within 48 hours of developing symptoms if you feel you may be one of those high risk patients.

For further information on availability of vaccine, call the Flu Line at 556-3588 or the appointment line at 524-2273.

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