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Staying safe during flu season


Over the last couple months, the flu has hit more and more people throughout the U.S. and with the peak of the season only about halfway through, the 325th Medical Group is reminding people to take precautions to stay safe.

“Since December 2017, when the flu outbreak started to become more prominent, the amount of acute calls have risen sharply,” said Mike DiMartino, 325th MDG appointment line manager. “I estimate that nearly 50 percent of patients calling in for acute issues are for flu-like symptoms. So far, for the month of January, the appointment line has received over 1,500 more calls than the total amount in December and November respectively.”

DiMartino also stated that in his 17 years of managing the appointment line, he has never seen a more active flu season.

“After exhausting all our daily access here at 325th MDG, we have been sending large numbers of our dependents and retirees to our network urgent care facilities such as Go Now Doctors and Coastal Urgent Care to keep up with the unusual demand,” DiMartino said.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu season’s peak is from December to February, however the season may continue until as late as May. All through the season, people are encouraged to take precautions to avoid exposure.

“We encourage everyone to be vaccinated for the flu if you have not already done so,” said Maj. Laura Wolfe, 325th Medical Operations Squadron maternal child flight commander. “The latest numbers in a recent CDC article estimated the flu vaccine this year to be 30 percent effective. While that number may not seem to be worth it to some, it is still a 30 percent decrease in your chance of catching the flu.

“In addition to that, studies have shown the vaccine to reduce the severity and duration of the illness in those who were vaccinated if they do become infected with the flu,” she added.

For those experiencing flu-like symptoms, the 325th MDG recommends people avoid leaving their house if possible. Members can use the appointment line at (850) 283-2778 for home care advice, or to inquire if they are considered high-risk patients.

If you catch the flu, the CDC recommends staying home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, except to get medical care or other necessities.

“This is a very active flu season and with reports of deaths and pandemics on the radio and news it can be a scary time for our patients,” Wolfe said. “However, unless you have chronic medical conditions or have a severe or prolonged disease, most patients do not require treatment. Home care with good hydration, rest and time is typically all that is required. We are happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have and if you ever feel as though you are acutely worsening or having trouble breathing, chest pain or dehydration concerns please be seen in the Emergency Room.”