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Don’t Let the Flu Get You Down
It’s no secret that the 2009/2010 flu season will be challenging. Between the H1N1
Virus (“Swine Flu”) the seasonal flu, and a myriad of cold viruses, staying healthy
certainly won’t be easy this winter. In fact, to help prepare for a potential outbreak of
H1N1 Flu virus, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health is working to distribute
a flu vaccine to as many residents as possible. State officials in Rhode Island are
making similar plans. Tufts Health Plan is collaborating with state agencies and the
Massachusetts Association of Health Plans and will distribute information as it becomes
In the meantime, here are some tips and important information to help members and
their families stay healthy.

What Can I Do to Avoid Getting the Flu?
The flu virus is spread from person to person through water droplets created when
people cough, sneeze, or speak. A free and easy way to prevent the flu is to practice
good hygiene every day:
ƒ Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently to help prevent the spread of germs. If
you don’t have access to a sink, use antibacterial hand sanitizer. ƒ Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick, too. ƒ Stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent ƒ Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent ƒ Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth. ƒ Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids,

Talk with Your Doctor about Getting Vaccinated
While no one is required to receive either the H1N1 vaccine or the seasonal flu vaccine,
certain groups of people are at a higher risk. Following are some general guidelines.
If you are unsure about getting either or both vaccinations, speak with your doctor. Keep
in mind that the RCAB Benefit Trusts Health Plan covers vaccinations in full – there is
no cost to members and covered dependents.

Don’t Let the Flu Get You Down

H1N1 Flu Vaccinations
Experts recommend that these groups be vaccinated first:
ƒ Pregnant women
ƒ People who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age
ƒ Health care and emergency medical services personnel
ƒ Persons between the ages of 6 months and 24 years old
Once the demand for the above groups has been met, these groups would follow: ƒ People ages 25 – 64 years of age who are at higher risk for H1N1 because of chronic health disorders or compromised immune systems ƒ Seniors (age 65+). Note: Some seniors may already have existing immunity to the H1N1 virus from previous infections or vaccinations.
Seasonal Flu Vaccinations
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), getting the
seasonal flu vaccine soon after it becomes available each year is always a good idea,
and the protection you get from vaccination will last throughout the flu season (usually
from late fall through February).
Those who are at high risk for complications from the flu, and should receive a yearly flu
shot, include:
ƒ People with chronic medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, asthma, or
ƒ People with an altered immune system
ƒ Women who are pregnant during flu season
ƒ People age 50 and older
ƒ Children between the ages of 6 months and 23 months
ƒ People who live with or care for someone who meets these criteria

How Do I Know If I Have the Flu?
Symptoms of the flu can occur rapidly—usually within an hour or two—and include high
fever, coughing, and muscle aches. If you suspect you have the flu, you should contact
your doctor. If treatment is needed, the first 24 to 48 hours are critical.
ƒ You might have the flu if you have a fever of 102°-104° lasting 3-4 days, muscle
aches, chills, severe cough, extreme fatigue, and general weakness.
ƒ It may be a cold if you have a fever of 101° or less, sneeze and cough frequently,
and show symptoms that mostly affect you above the neck. Don’t Let the Flu Get You Down

What Should I Do if I Get the Flu?
ƒ Call your physician or the Catholic Benefits Nurse Line at 866-855-0183. Employees
and their family members can speak with a nurse 24 hours/day, 7 days/week. All calls are free, confidential, and voluntary. ƒ If possible, stay home to help prevent others from catching your illness. ƒ Try to be fever-free for 24 hours before returning to work or other activities. ƒ Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing to help prevent ƒ Drink lots of hot liquids to soothe your throat, help unplug your nose, and “re-hydrate” ƒ Lubricate your throat by sucking on lozenges or hard candies. ƒ Don’t suppress coughs that bring up mucus. You may need to ask your health care provider to suggest an over-the-counter expectorant. ƒ Don’t drink milk or eat dairy products for several days. These products may make it ƒ Check with your doctor to see if regular doses of acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen sodium are appropriate for you.

For More Information
To find information on preventing and treating the flu:
ƒ Center for Disease Control:
ƒ Massachusetts Department of Public Health:
For information on public vaccination clinics: ƒ Massachusetts ƒ Rhode Island residents: (click the “About Vaccination” link) Sources: Centers for Disease Control and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Don’t Let the Flu Get You Down


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