Medical Monday: Fighting the flu

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The flu can spread easily. That's why doctors urge you to cover your cough, wear a mask and clean your hands. The flu shot, while not as effective as in year's past, is still important.

"It still reduces the severity of the illness, reduces the risk of hospitalization, and ultimately reduces the risk of death from the flu. It's still a very good idea," explained Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center's Chief Medical Officer Dr. George Helmrich.

If you do get the flu, it's important to stay home from work or school. Experts say one of the reasons the spread is so rampant is because people aren't isolating themselves for a long enough period of time.

"We have folks that are returning to work too quickly. They're anxious to get back. One thing we need to consider is that you need to make sure you are symptom free, which means no fever, cough, sore throat for 24 hours without any sort of intervention, like taking Tylenol to make sure your fever is lower," said Kim Gleason, Vice President of Quality and Patient Safety at Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center.

Symptoms of the flu include fever, muscle and body aches, nasal congestion, sore throat, and cough.