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Essential health information from local experts

Flu Season 2019-2020: What You Need to Know

Video blog with SMH Urgent Care physician Tammy Berry, MD


Yep, it’s that time: Flu season. And that means it’s time for put your family’s flu-fighting strategies into action.

The flu, also known as influenza, is a viral respiratory illness that can affect people of all ages. While flu infections are most common during winter months — and typically peak December to February — we’ve already begun seeing flu cases in our Urgent Care Centers and the Sarasota Memorial Hospital Emergency Room (ER).

Skip the Flu this Season

There are several steps that you can take to protect yourself and others from getting and spreading the flu. 

Get the flu shot. The flu vaccine is recommended for all adults and children over 6 months old. We offer flu shots at all six Sarasota Memorial Urgent Care Center locations and are open for walk-ins seven days a week. Remember, flu vaccine only offers protection for one year. So, if you got a flu shot in 2018, it’s time for another one to ensure you’re protected for the 2019-2020 flu season currently under way.

Stay home if you are sick. People infected with the flu virus are most contagious during the first few days of illness. 

Cover your cough. The flu is spread through secretions from the mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Be sure to cover coughs and sneezes, and always wash your hands or use hand-sanitizer afterward.

Practice good hand hygiene. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water frequently; if you don’t have access to a sink or soap, use hand sanitizer. Be sure to teach younger children how to properly wash their hands.

Clean commonly touched surfaces in your home. Wipe down and disinfect things like doorknobs, light switches, refrigerator handle(s), TV or stereo remote controls, computer keyboards, your home telephone, cellphones and other touchscreen devices, etc. This will help reduce the spread of illness to other members of your family. 

Flu Symptoms & Treatment

Having the flu can be miserable, and symptoms can linger up to a week; these include fever, body aches, headache, fatigue, sore throat and cough. For treatment, we typically recommend rest, drinking plenty of fluids, and taking over-the-counter pain relievers and cold and flu medications. 

The flu can be dangerous and require medical attention for some people. Always seek medical evaluation if you have flu symptoms and are: 65 years old or older, pregnant, have difficulty breathing, cannot keep any fluids down, or have certain medical conditions, such as chronic heart or lung disease, chronic kidney disease, diabetes or a suppressed immune system.

Seek urgent medical attention for a child or infant showing any of these signs: seizures; trouble breathing; a fever higher than 104 degrees Fahrenheit; bluish lips or face; chest pain; severe muscle pain; dehydration (i.e. no urine for 8 hours, no tears when crying and a dry mouth); the ribs pulling in with each breath; or not being alert or interacting when awake. 

Feel Better Faster

Need a flu shot or think you may have the flu? Our Urgent Care Centers are open 8 am to 8 pm daily, and with online check-in, you can be in and out quickly. Click here to save your spot in line at the urgent care location that's most convenient for you.

Sarasota Memorial Urgent Care physician Tammy Berry, MD, is board-certified in family medicine and specializes in urgent care treatment. A graduate of Wayne State University Medical School, Mich., Dr. Berry completed her residency at the University of Wyoming.

Posted: Oct 22, 2019,
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