Feeling sick? Influenza is hitting Alabama hard this year

HUNTSVILLE Ala. -- Flu season is getting started around the country, but Alabama is already getting hit hard. The Alabama Department of Public Health reports that flu activity is increasing across the state. The Alabama influenza surveillance map shows that most of the state is dealing with significant flu activity.

Nurse practitioner at Phoenix Emergency Care, Andrea Glasgow, said the area has been hit earlier than past years.

"It's really hit Huntsville hard, so we're encouraging everyone to get their flu shots," Glasgow said. "And to be aware that it's out in the community, and to practice whatever measures you can to prevent from getting sick."

An annual flu vaccine is recommended for everyone six months and older. The Alabama Department of Public Health said to request the Quadrivalent vaccine, the one that protects against four strains of influenza. This is important because one of the strains circulating Alabama is the type B flu, the vaccine to which is only included in the Quadrivalent vaccine.

"Even if you feel like you're late getting your flu shot this season, it's not too late," Glasgow said. "Because it's gonna be here probably for many months to come."

In addition to the flu shot, nurse practitioner Kayla Vaden said to always cover coughs and sneezes, and use hand sanitizer.

"Make sure you're hand washing like crazy, disinfecting everything," Vaden said. "If you come into contact with someone that's had the flu, or that has it, stay away from them."

If you have any of the symptoms; fever, cough, sore throat, head or muscle aches, see your doctor and stay home.

"You never know who you're putting at risk," Glasgow said. "Who is going to potentially take it home to a small child, or somebody that's immunocompromised in their family."

For those that are wary that the flu shot will actually give them the flu, Glasgow said that is impossible.

"It's not a live virus," Glasgow said. "It's impossible for you to get the flu from the flu shot." If you are looking to get a flu shot, you can get one at a local urgent care, pharmacy, or at your doctor's office.

It's not only the flu you have to worry about. A stomach bug is also going around Huntsville. Vaden said even sinus infections can be contagious.

"Whatever they sneeze, cough on, anything, if it's got that bacteria in that sputum that comes out. It's droplet precaution pretty much," Vaden said. "Especially like strep that's going around too, it's definitely contagious."

To stay healthy Glasgow said to be careful of what you touch.

"If you're coughing, sneezing, try and do the vampire cough so that you're not getting it on doorknobs and things that you touch because the flu virus can live on objects," Glasgow said. "When you're in public try not to touch your mouth, your nose, your eyes. Because if you're touching shopping carts, and doorknobs, and so forth, then touching your face, your potentially inoculating yourself with whatever virus or bacteria you've come in contact with."

After being sick, she recommended being fever free for 24 hours before coming in contact with others. If you do have to go out in public while sick, they recommend wearing a face mask.