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It’s not too late to vaccinate against the flu

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The media has been so focused on the Ebola outbreak this year, it’s easy to forget that flu season is here.  Every year more than 200,000 Americans are hospitalized for flu-related illnesses and over 20,000 people die from the disease.

This week  is National Flu Vaccine Week in the US; and it’s not too late to vaccinate yourself and your children.  The flu vaccine can take up to two weeks to become effective, so now is the time to protect yourself before the holidays. Dr. Brenna Gerdelman family practice physician indicated that she started seeing flu cases this week in her clinic at ADC Steiner Ranch, so the sooner you vaccinate the better.

This year, the flu vaccine is available in both a shot and a nasal spray and covers four of the more prevalent strains, A/H3N2, A/H1N1, and 2 strains of influenza B.  Scared of needles? Dr. Gerdelman noted that  most people from ages 2 to 49, without chronic medical problems, can get the flumist which is also quadrivalent.

The CDC recommends the flu vaccine for anyone 6 months or older. If you are a caregiver of a child younger than 6 months, it’s important to vaccine yourself and those around the child, since they are too young to receive the vaccine.

Vaccination to prevent flu is particularly important for those people who are at increased risk for complications from flu or at higher risk for flu-related hospitalizations.

Those who are more susceptible to these complications include:

  • young children
  • pregnant women
  • adults 65 years and older
  • those with chronic illness, like COPD, asthma and emphysema

For those individuals concerned about “getting the flu” from the flu shot:  Dr. Gerdelman states ”you do not get the flu from getting a flu shot.  In adults, the rates of having fever and body aches is similar after a flu shot and after a placebo injection.”  Many patients will have some soreness at the site of the injection which usually goes away within two days.

The flu vaccine is the best defense against the flu virus, but it’s also important to practice good health habits to help lessen the spread of germs.

  • Use hot, soapy water when hand-washing. If water and soap are not available, alcohol based hand sanitizer is the next best option.
  • Practice the “Vampire Sneeze” and sneeze or cough into your elbow instead of your hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home if you are sick.  Going to work or school when you are sick can spread the disease to others.
  • Get plenty of sleep, eat well and drink lots of water.

According to Diane Mear, R.N, Director of Employee Health, “ADC is seeing more flu cases in recent days, even among those who received a flu shot.  However, this is only one strain of the flu virus, the vaccine does protect against other common varieties of flu. If you experience symptoms of the flu, contact your doctor’s office immediately, or visit EasyCare, to see if anti viral medication is appropriate for you.”

 

Resources:

New York Department of Health 

Center for Disease Control 

Flu.gov

 

Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    I WAS ADMIN THE FLU VACCINE AT ADC WESTLAKE ON 3 SEP 2014-GIVEN ALL THE RECENT PUBLICITY ABOUT THIS YEARS VACCINE NOT COVERING THIS YEARS FLU STRAIN, DO I NEED TO TAKE ANOTHER OR DIFFERENT VACCINE?

    • Thank you for your question. The flu virus mutated this year and a different strain has emerged. There is no other vaccine available and no need to get another flu shot. The flu vaccine is still your best chance for preventing flu, but good general precautions in the article are advised for prevention as well.