Influenza has officially reached epidemic proportions in several regions of the United States. Approximately 7.3% of deaths (exceeding the 7.2% threshold) are now attributed to pneumonia and the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mount Sinai is taking a number of actions in order to continue to provide optimal care to all of our patients and to protect our patients and staff from exposure to influenza.
What can you do to protect yourself and others from influenza?
- It’s not too late to get vaccinated. Click here to make an appointment online with one of our primary care doctors or call 212-241-6585
- Dr. Prarthana Beuria recommends being vigilant about washing hands every time you’re out in public and around lots of people, whether in the subway or at the office, and to avoid touching your face with your hands.
- If you have the flu, Dr. Beuria recommends that you “stay home from work until the fever has been gone for 24 hours. If people around you have compromised immune systems, stay away.”
Who is at risk of getting the flu?
Those at higher risk of complications from the flu include:
- Children younger than 5, especially children younger than 2 years old
- Adults 65 years of age and older
- Pregnant women
- People who have medical conditions including:
- Chronic lung conditions such as asthma, COPD, cystic fibrosis
- Heart disease
- Blood disorders (sickle cell disease)
- Kidney disorders
- Liver disorders
- Weakened immune system as a result of disease (e.g., HIV/AIDS) or medication (e.g., chemotherapy)
- People younger than 19 years of age receiving long-term aspirin therapy
- Morbidly obese (individuals with body mass index [BMI] of 40 or greater)
- American Indians and Alaskan Natives
What should you do if you develop symptoms of the flu, such as fever and cough or fever and sore throat?
- Most people with influenza have mild illness and do not need to be seen by a doctor. Persons with underlying conditions that place them at increased risk of complications from influenza should contact their medical provider to determine if they need to be evaluated and/or treated. Persons with more severe symptoms (difficulty breathing, chest pain, dizziness, or confusion) should call a doctor or seek medical attention immediately.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough, sneeze, or blow your nose.
- Wash your hands or use an alcohol-based hand rub after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
Who should get a flu shot?
The Centers for Disease Control recommends that everyone aged 6 months and older receive flu shots, especially those at higher risk of complications, such as infants, elderly adults and pregnant women.
What else is Mount Sinai doing to prepare?
In addition to bolstering staff and managing beds, Mount Sinai has taken extra measures to prepare for the flu. This includes:
- Distributing masks to clinical departments and Medical Center entrances.
- Participating in ongoing citywide planning and surveillance activities and following public health recommendations related to flu prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.