Tis the season….for the FLU

Traveling for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas often means going to see family in other cities. It means air travel and exposures. Holiday time often means coughs and colds. Most of these infections are viral and non-responsive to antibiotics. Viral infections can be a simple, common cold or they can be viral pneumonia. Viruses can cause serious illness. Thousands of people die from complications to influenza every single year. The recommendations are for everyone over the age of SIX MONTHS to receive a flu vaccine. The injectable vaccines are attenuated virus, meaning there is no LIVE viral particles in the shot. People over the age of 65 are advised to get the high dose vaccine so as to boost their chances of full immunity against the influenza virus. The nasal vaccines are inhaled and do have microscopic quantities of the live virus.

Our office offers the vaccine but the vaccine is widely available throughout town and can be obtained at most area pharmacies. The vaccine this year is a triple vaccine against Influenza A, Influenza B and the H1N1 viral strains. There is no vaccine shortage.

If you are a diabetic, have heart problems or lung disease you are at greater risk for influenza. We urge you to get vaccinated. The signs and symptoms of influenza are usually intense. Patients have high fever and profound body aches. They usually feel awful and have a cough. They usually LOOK very ill. Influenza is spread through coughing and touching. It is highly contagious and if you have the flu, you should remain home from work or school until your fever breaks. The very best defense against the flu other than vaccination is to contain the spread of the infection.  Wash your hands, do not cough into your hands and don’t share objects like pens and phones. Viruses can live on objects and surfaces, so use disinfecting wipes to prevent spread. We all share in this effort.

November 2010