Fight the Flu with Three Easy Steps
As flu season approaches, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest the following to help keep you, your loved ones and our patients healthy:
Get the flu vaccine
Everyone 6 months of age and older should get vaccinated. This is the most important step in protecting against flu viruses.
Take preventive actions to stop the spread of germs
Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. Stay home if you are sick.
Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them
If you get the flu, antiviral drugs can treat your illness. Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics and are not available over-the-counter.
Will vaccines formulated specifically for infants and seniors be available?
Vaccines available include Fluarix for patients ages 6 months and older and Fluzone High-Dose for patients ages 65 and older.
What is the recommendation for people who have an egg allergy?
- We recommend following CDC guidelines.
- Persons with a history of egg allergy who have experienced only hives after exposure to egg should receive the flu vaccine. Any licensed and recommended flu vaccine (i.e., any form of IIV or RIV) that is otherwise appropriate for the recipient’s age and health status may be used.
- Persons who report having had reactions to egg involving symptoms other than hives, such as angioedema, respiratory distress, lightheadedness or recurrent emesis, or who required epinephrine or another emergency medical intervention, may similarly receive any licensed and recommended flu vaccine (i.e., any form of IIV or RIV) that is otherwise appropriate for the recipient’s age and health status. The selected vaccine should be administered in an inpatient or outpatient medical setting (including, but not necessarily limited to, hospitals, clinics, health departments and physician offices). Vaccine administration should be supervised by a healthcare provider who is able to recognize and manage severe allergic conditions.
- Anyone who has had a previous severe allergic reaction to the flu vaccine, regardless of the component suspected of being responsible for the reaction, should not receive the vaccine in the future.
What if I am unable to attend on these dates?
This drive-thru event is an added service to you this year, and another opportunity to receive your flu vaccine. You can still call our office or receive your flu shot at an existing MPS appointment as you have in the past.
What does the flu vaccination protect you from?
The current flu for this year will provide immunity toward three viruses: two influenza A (H1N1 and H3N2) viruses and an influenza B virus. Researchers believe these are the most common viruses that will affect people during flu season.
For which groups is the flu shot most highly recommended?
The flu shot is recommended for people who are 50 years and older, have a medical condition (such as asthma, cancer, diabetes and heart, lung or kidney disease), are nursing home residents, are pregnant, are healthcare providers or who live with children who are 6 months or younger or live with someone who has a high risk for flu complications.
What are the recommendations for children?
Children should receive the vaccine as early as 6 months. It's split into two doses until 35 months of age. Children younger than 9 who never received the H1N1 vaccine last season should get two doses of the flu shot this year.
When should I get a flu vaccination?
Get your vaccine as soon as it is available. The sooner you get the shot, the better, because it takes roughly two weeks for us to develop antibodies to the influenza virus. Flu season can start as early as October, reach its climax in January or later and last until May.
What are symptoms of the flu?
A. Flu symptoms include fatigue, muscle aches, nasal congestion or runny nose, cough, sore throat, headaches and sometimes fever and diarrhea. More serious complications that could develop include sinus infection, ear infection, pneumonia, dehydration and even death. The latter problems can especially happen in those with chronic conditions.
When should I seek medical care for the flu?
When patients start having any of the symptoms above, it's good to get checked out by a primary care physician. This is especially crucial if the patient is a child or elderly, is pregnant or has a chronic condition.
It is very difficult to distinguish the flu from other infections on the basis of symptoms alone. A doctor's exam may be needed to tell whether you have developed the flu or a complication of the flu. There are tests that can determine if you have the flu as long you're tested within the first two or three days of illness.
For more information, contact your provider’s office.
Rajesh Govindaiah, M.D., Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer for Memorial Health System in Springfield, IL, discusses the most common myths about the annual flu vaccine.