What some call the flu and others consider just a severe cold or yet others say is an upper respiratory infection or perhaps even a simple bout with sinusitis is not necessarily the point.
The point is sick is sick.
Some even label it “the crud.” It is an apt description because “the crud,” by most interpretations, means this: “I don’t feel well. So don’t come near me because you might get it, too.”
Ours is not an attempt to make light of a serious situation. We use these analogies to point to the importance of getting a flu vaccine. Getting this “shot” as some call it, or perhaps the nasal mist, is not 100 percent foolproof in warding off a genuine case of influenza, but it reduces the chances considerably. And most importantly, the vaccine can lessen the severity of such an illness if it is contracted.
Those who follow the headlines — and especially over the past week — understand the traditional mid-winter spread of influenza is already upon us. Normally, regional outbreaks don’t start popping up until late January or early February. As we are being told, this year it’s already here.
Everybody with a finger on the pulse of seasonal illness is saying it. These include folks like local, state and federal health departments, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and most recently the East Tennessee Region of the American Red Cross has weighed in.
According to these folks, and most likely other health professionals as well, widespread flu activity is already being reported in virtually all states. These are not limited to the colder Northeast, Midwest and Great Plains regions whose winters are seemingly twice as long as ours in Southeast Tennessee. Several Southern states are included in this season’s early spread of “crud,” among them being Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and yes, the Volunteer State.
As of Jan. 10, health officials were blaming the flu for the deaths of at least 20 children nationwide. This is not only a heartbreak, it is unacceptable given the vast availability of the flu vaccine in every state in the country.
Obviously, some do not receive — nor do they want — flu vaccines for any number of reasons. Some might base their decisions on religious grounds. Some might not have access to insurance and don’t want to spend the money, even at a reduced rate through local health departments or employers. And others claim getting the vaccine ironically lands them a case of the flu within a few days.
Their reasons are many, but none can justify the threat that such decisions pose on others. When people get the flu — whether or not they receive the vaccine — they act as vessels for the spread of the serious illness if they come into contact with others.
Medical professionals offer this advice to those who are sick: Stay home. Get some rest. Allow your body time to heal. Don’t go out among other people.
For those whose busy lifestyles won’t allow such inactivity, or for those who are just plain stubborn, follow these practices: Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, not with your hands. When necessary, cough into the elbow when tissues are not available. Wash hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand-rub. Avoid touching the eyes, nose or mouth.
But here are the three soundest pieces of advice we have come across for those who don’t want to get the flu and those who don’t want to give the flu.
No. 1: Get a flu shot.
No. 2: Get a flu shot.
No. 3: Get a flu shot.
Don’t know where to get one? Look around. They’re everywhere — the Bradley County Health Department, pharmacies at every corner, walk-in clinics, your doctor’s office and in many cases employers are sponsoring them at the worksite.
A genuine case of the flu is bad stuff.
Giving it to someone else makes it even worse.
Don’t be a crud by spreading “the crud.”