While we are rushing around in December, take a moment to think about whether or not your family has received the flu vaccine this year. The CDC reports show that unfortunately, we are jumping into the season early this year, especially in TEXAS, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. In fact, this is the earliest in the flu season to reach this level in almost a decade (since 2003-2004). The good news is that the viruses identified with testing DO largely match the strains that are included in this year’s vaccine. More good news is that they are susceptible to our antiviral medications, although I am not a huge fan of these drugs in otherwise healthy individuals.
Both types of influenza- A and B- are being documented, with the usual ratio of nearly 3:1 from A:B.
What is FLU? Influenza is not a simple cold, nor is it a twenty four hour stomach virus. The flu causes fever, chills, cough, runny/stuffy nose, muscle aches, headaches, fatigue, and sometimes involves vomiting and diarrhea (more often in kids). Colds and allergies tend to bother you from the neck up- stuffy, sore throat, headache- but don’t knock you down for the count, and coughs are generally less bothersome.
How is the FLU spread? This virus is spread from infected people when the cough, sneeze or talk, via tiny respiratory droplets, and the scary part is that you are contagious a full day BEFORE you develop symptoms (as well as for about a week after you feel sick.)
How can you prevent the FLU? Get vaccinated. Get vaccinated. Get vaccinated. It’s not too late for this year- get vaccinated. The flu vaccine is indicated for EVERYONE over the age of 6 months, EVERY YEAR.
Who should NOT get vaccinated? Those with severe chicken egg allergies; bad reactions to vaccine in the past; younger than 6 months; history of an uncommon disease called Guillain-Barre. If you are sick with a fever, wait till this illness is over before getting the vaccine.
BOTTOM LINE: It’s FLU SEASON again- get vaccinated!