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NFID Urges Public to Protect Themselves: Influenza Prevention and Treatment


NFID urges public to protect themselves and others by following the CDC’s “Take 3” approach to influenza prevention and treatment

A new study found that while most U.S. adults understand flu is serious (93%) and highly contagious (87%) and know the importance of annual flu vaccination (66%), only one-fourth (27%) would call a doctor for advice when someone in the household has the flu.
On the heels of last year’s flu season, which hit harder and earlier than it had in a decade, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) conducted the national Flu Behaviors and Treatments survey to understand public attitudes, experiences and knowledge about flu prevention and treatment. State specific results are available for Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas.

The survey found that, once individuals come down with the flu, there is confusion about when it is contagious and how best to treat it:

  • Many (41%) don’t realize that flu is contagious before symptoms start.
  • About half incorrectly believe antibiotics (44%) or flu vaccines (48%) treat the flu.
  • When flu strikes, 59% do not know or do not think there are prescription medicines for the flu.

“It is reassuring that individuals recognize the importance of receiving an annual vaccination, but that’s not enough,” said Dr. Susan J. Rehm, NFID medical director. “To help keep influenza out of homes, schools and workplaces, everyone 6 months and older needs to get vaccinated annually and know to contact a doctor at the first sign of flu symptoms.”

Flu spreads quickly and easily from one person to the next. Anyone can become sick and experience serious complications. Healthy individuals may bounce back quickly; however, others around them (i.e., children and the elderly) might not. Between 5-20% of the U.S. population become sick with the flu each year and more than 200,000 are hospitalized from seasonal flu-related complications.

Practicing everyday preventive actions during flu season protects those who are sick and others around them. NFID endorses the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) “Take 3”Actions to Fight the Flu: 1) take the time to get an annual flu vaccine, 2) take everyday preventative actions to stop the spread of viruses and 3) take antiviral medicines if your doctor prescribes them. Prescription antiviral flu medicines directly attack the flu virus and prevent it from replicating.

NFID released a new, animated public service announcement, featuring “Freddie the Flu Detective,” aimed at educating the public about flu symptoms (fever, aches, chills, extreme tiredness and sudden onset) and what to do when the flu strikes. Click here to view.

The Flu Behaviors and Treatments survey is supported by Genentech, a member of the Roche Group. Additional flu season resources are available on nfid.org and FluFACTS.com, including an urgent care locator, local flu tracker and alerts, symptom checker and a downloadable coloring book, available in English and Spanish.

Survey Background
The Flu Behaviors and Treatments survey was conducted by Research Now, which has an opt-in online consumer panel with approximately 3 million members. National survey findings are based on an online survey with a sample of 1,000 adults, 18 years and older. Individual state surveys were conducted with samples of 500 adults in each of the 10 states surveyed. Survey data was collected between August 6 and 28, 2013. Responses were weighted by demographic variables including sex, age, ethnicity, geographic region and education to ensure that the final samples approximate U.S. Census data nationally and for the individual states included.