It’s Not Too Late To Prevent The Flu Or Lessen It’s Symptoms
It may be nearing the end of March, but unfortunately, the flu season is still marching on. People tend to think that by the end of daylight savings time that flu season is over; only to be struck down with this serious, even life-threatening respiratory illness. It’s never too late to get your annual flu shot. Even now, if you’ve been unlucky enough to have just come down with it, the annual flu vaccination is you and your family’s best defense against influenza.
Although for most people the flu typically only lasts from a few days to a few weeks, with symptoms that often mock a cold, this isn’t always the case. In particular, the flu can have more than just short term, slightly debilitating symptoms for some people. The elderly and children can suffer serious side effects from influenza that in worst case scenarios can end in death.
Influenza, or the flu as it’s more commonly called, is a highly contagious respiratory illness that can cause much more severe symptoms than your typical cold does, such as ear and/or sinus infections and even bacterial pneumonia and/or dehydration. These side effects of the flu can lead to hospitalization and possibly death for those at high risk.
People who’re at high risk would include:
- Pregnant women.
- Adults age 65 and older.
- American Indians and Alaskan Natives.
- Children under 5, especially children under 2 years of age.
- Residents of long term care facilities, rehab centers, and nursing homes.
- People who have pre-existing health conditions that are considered chronic i.e. asthma, cancer, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, heart disease, COPD, and others.
Things You Need To Know About The Flu This Season 2016 – 2017
Each year there’s different types of flu that dominate the season, the 2016 – 2017 season has proved to be moderate so far, meaning that according to the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report which summarizes the activity of influenza in the United States the amount of people who died from influenza or were hospitalized so far this year wasn’t considered to be of epidemic proportions, yet.
This flu season, October 2, 2016 thru February 4, 2017, was dominated by influenza A (H3N2). But, it should be noted that there was evidence that influenza A (H1N1) and influenza B were also present during this seasonal time period. Fortunately for many people this year’s flu vaccine proved to be very effective in both preventing people from getting the flu and lessening the effects of the flu for those who contracted it.
So far (as of March 11, 2017), according to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) the information collected for pneumonia and influenza accounted for 7.8% percent of the deaths that occurred during week ten of the sample collection period. That 7.8% percent of deaths put the mortality rate above the threshold (7.5%) that is categorized as epidemic level. To check your state or region’s specific information on pneumonia and influenza-related deaths click here.
There have been a total of 61 pediatric deaths so far where the cause of death was deemed to be due to influenza, you can check your state or region by clicking here. The CDC highly recommends a yearly flu vaccination for children 6 months of age and up as one of the earliest of many precautions you can take to protect your child from the possible deadly consequences of influenza. Some children 6 months of age through 8 years will need to receive 2 flu shots (given at least 28 days apart) to be adequately protected. For more information about children and the flu vaccine click here.
Babies that are under 6 months of age are especially at high risk but are too young to have an influenza vaccination. However, you can help to protect your infant by making sure that you and anyone with prolonged contact with your child such as caregivers and relatives get vaccinated for the flu.
Which Flu Vaccine You And Your Family Should You Get This Flu Season
*This flu season, only injectible flu vaccines (flu shots) should be taken.*
For the 2016 – 2017 flu season the CDC recommends the following vaccinations, this information is taken directly from the CDC web page:
CDC recommends use of injectible influenza vaccines (including inactivated influenza vaccines and recombinant influenza vaccines) during 2016-2017. The nasal spray flu vaccine (live attenuated influenza vaccine or LAIV) should not be used during 2016-2017.
Both trivalent (three-component) and quadrivalent (four-component) flu vaccines will be available.
Trivalent flu vaccines include:
- Standard-dose trivalent shots (IIV3) that are manufactured using virus grown in eggs. Different flu shots are approved for different age groups. Most flu shots are given in the arm (muscle) with a needle. One trivalent vaccine formulation can be given with a jet injector, for persons aged 18 through 64 years.
- A high-dose trivalent shot, approved for people 65 and older.
- A recombinant trivalent shot that is egg-free, approved for people 18 years and older.
- A trivalent flu shot made with adjuvant (an ingredient of a vaccine that helps create a stronger immune response in the patient’s body), approved for people 65 years of age and older (new this season).
Quadrivalent flu vaccines include:
- Quadrivalent flu shots approved for use in different age groups.
- An intradermal quadrivalent flu shot, which is injected into the skin instead of the muscle and uses a much smaller needle than the regular flu shot. It is approved for people 18 through 64 years of age.
- A quadrivalent flu shot containing virus grown in cell culture, which is approved for people 4 years of age and older (new this season).
What You Can Do To Prevent Getting Or Spreading The Flu
The first and one of the most important steps you can take to prevent the flu is for you, your family, and friends to get a yearly flu shot (vaccination).
Below are some additional precautions you can take to prevent getting or spreading the flu:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap, water, and friction when rubbing them together while washing.
- Avoid contact with people who’re sick and if you’re sick try to keep your distance from others to avoid spreading your germs to them.
- Cover your mouth and nose if you cough or sneeze.
- Stay home from work or school if you’re sick with the flu to prevent spreading it to others.
- Avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes because your hands may contain flu germs you’ve picked up from touching surfaces in your home or in public that are contaminated with flu germs.
- Disinfect frequently touched areas and commonly used items in your home, school and workspace, in particular if someone is ill with flu or cold symptoms.
- Get proper rest and exercise.
- Eat a healthy balanced diet and drink plenty of fluids.
- Try to minimize your stress level, especially if the flu is making its rounds in your home, school, or workplace.
- If you’re sick with the flu it’s not too late to get a flu shot, it may lessen the flu symptoms and shorten the duration of your illness.