It seems like the whole Island came down with the flu overnight. That’s not true, of course, but this week it became clear that the Vineyard had not escaped a nationwide early outbreak of influenza that has prompted a state of emergency in Boston.
At press time, Island pharmacies and doctors offices that had been offering free flu vaccinations had run low of supplies. Fortunately, Martha’s Vineyard Hospital and Vineyard boards of health acted fast to avert a local emergency and will host a free flu shot clinic Sunday from nine in the morning until two in the afternoon. The hospital has five hundred doses of the vaccine available.
Health officials here say there is no need for alarm, just sensible precautions.
Wash hands frequently. Take good care of your health by getting plenty of rest and moderate exercise, eating fresh fruits and vegetables and drinking plenty of water. Dress warmly when outdoors. If you do become ill, stay home and drink lots of clear fluids, including water, herbal teas and fruit juices. And rest! “Sleep is the best healer,” one Vineyard doctor says. If your condition worsens, see your doctor. If you don’t have a doctor, go to the hospital emergency room.
Many people who experience flu-like symptoms do not actually have the flu, but some other kind of virus that can be treated with rest, fluids and over-the-counter medications.
Public health professionals say the flu season usually runs for six to eight weeks, which means the Island could be facing several more weeks of severe viral illnesses as winter gets under way.
Whether to get a flu shot is a personal decision. Many doctors recommend the shots for the elderly and people who work in public places where they have frequent contact with other people, such as teachers, health care workers, and town hall and restaurant workers. But whether or not you get a shot, the best way to avoid spreading viral infection is to stay home if you get sick.
Your co-workers will thank you for it.