Your Questions About the Flu Answered

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Parents across the region haven't been bracing for snow days; they've been looking out for flu days.

Schools in Martin County, Ky., were forced to close last week because so many people were sick with the flu. Schools in Lawrence County, Ky., also have closed.

Parents in Mingo County, W.Va., are frustrated because the doors haven't been locked because of the illness.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are no specific guidelines as to when a school should be closed because of the influenza virus.

According to Curtis Allen, a spokesperson for the CDC, the decision is made locally to balance the risk of the social and economical impact on a community.

The CDC recommends a working relationship between the Health Department, a school board and other local leaders to make a decision for their region.

"There are a lot of things that go into that decision, and that is why it's best left to local authorities," Curtis said.

The CDC offers a host of guidelines for administrators about influenza prevention.

In the meantime, we asked you on our WSAZ Facebook page what questions you have about the flu.

Dr. James Bailes Jr. with Cabell Pediatrics, affiliated with Cabell Huntington Hospital, answered some of the most popular questions for you.

Please remember these are general answers. If you have immediate questions about your health call your doctor or local health department.

Q: How long are you contagious when carrying the flu virus?

A: "The flu last five whole days, in general, typically you are contagious as long as you have a fever you are contagious a day before you get the fever."

Q: Can you get the flu from someone who has had the shot?

A: "You can not. You can not get the flu from someone who has taken the vaccine." Dr. Bailes said that if that person does contract the flu virus, then you can get it from them, but the actual vaccine cannot get them, or you sick.

Q: What if you had a negative reaction to the flu shot before should you still get one?

A: "It depends on what that reaction is, if it's a severe life-threatening reaction, difficulty breathing, anafalaxis, difficulty swallowing, that type of thing you probably shouldn't get the vaccine," the doctor said.

"If it is just a local reaction, just a little bit of swelling," he explained, "then it is OK to get the vaccine."

He says the same is true if you are allergic to eggs. If the side effects when you eat eggs are mild you should be okay to get the shot, but it is always best to discuss your specific situation with your health care provider.

Q: How long does the flu last?

A: "Typically five days, five full days of high fever is what we expect for the flu, and usually, by the end of the week you are better, you may cough for a few weeks, you keep getting better."

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