The Flu and You
The Influenza (flu) season is upon us. Actually it has been for a while. In the United States, the flu season is considered October through May. It usually peaks in February. In Australia, the flu season is considered May to October.
Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death.
Some of the symptoms include the following:
- Fever (not everyone with flu will have fever)
- Sore throat
- Running Nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue (extreme tiredness)
- Vomiting and diarrhea (more common presentation in children)
Getting an annual flu vaccine one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from the flu. Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors' visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations. In 2017, a study in Pediatrics was the first of its kind to show that flu vaccination also significantly reduced a child’s risk of dying from influenza.
According to the CDC some things are new this flu season:
1) The recommendation to not use the nasal spray flu vaccine (LAIV) was renewed for the 2017-2018 season. Only injectable flu shots are recommended for use again this season.
2) Flu vaccines have been updated to better match circulating viruses (the influenza A(H1N1) component was updated).
3) Pregnant women may receive any licensed, recommended, and age-appropriate flu vaccine.
4) A quadrivalent recombinant flu vaccine (“Flublok Quadrivalent” RIV) is newly available this season. (Last season, only trivalent recombinant flu vaccine was available.)
5) For the first time, a cell-grown H3N2 vaccine reference virus was used to produce the H3N2 component of the cell-based vaccine, Flucelvax. (The remaining Flucelvax vaccine components were manufactured using egg-grown reference viruses.)
I guess the question on everybody's mind is that " How effective are these vaccines?"
The CDC released interim estimates for the 2016-2017 influenza season that show this year's vaccine has been 48 percent effective in preventing laboratory-confirmed influenza A and B viral infection associated with medically attended acute respiratory illness. A 10% vaccine effectiveness (VE) was reported against one flu virus (the H3N2 virus) that circulated in Australia during its most recent flu season. These figure are not very encouraging when compared to other types of vaccines. However, taking the shots is still best strategy for preventing flu or reducing it severity if one comes down with the illness. Therefore, it is very crucial to still ensure you get your flu vaccine. Every year, flu shots are modified to take care of the prevalent strains of the influenza virus for that flu season.
Do not delay or put off your getting your flu shot as soon as possible. I kept on postponing getting my flu not until after I contracted the flu and landed at the urgent care. Spent a couple of few dollars that could have been saved. Hence, having an intention to get your flu shot is not enough, you have to do it as soon as the flu season hits. Prevention is better than cure. The complications could be grave. Already, there have been so many reported cases of mortality from the flu this year. This number has been uptrending compared to last years'. While flu spreads every year, the timing, severity, and length of the season varies from one year to another.
Important Tips to stay safe this Flu season.
1) Ensure that you get the Flu vaccine as soon as possible. The Flu vaccine is for everyone 6 months and above. Encourage all your friends and loved ones to get vaccinated.
2) Cover coughs and sneezes. This is because the virus can be spread via droplet innoculation such that when you sneeze or cough you can easily set the germs airborne.
3) When you have to use revolving doors, push with your side or arms. As long as you don't touch with your hands let alone rub those hands on you face.
4) Always wash your hands. Before you eat, after you eat, after sneezing or coughing. Make sure that kids wash their hands first thing after coming home from school or from a play date. As healthcare workers, ensure you wash your hands both before and after touching a patient. Wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and dry your hands. If peradventure you are not able to wash your hands, use the sanitizer.
5) Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. The flu virus can live up to two to eight hours on surfaces which makes it so easy to pick up these germs without realizing it. For example, from door knobs, light switches, railings of the escalator, on the airplane, etc.
6) Limit contact with people that are ill. I know you are a good person and have a lot of love in your heart to share, but when someone is ill, you need to curb your contact time with them so you do not end up becoming ill. Avoid sharing items like towel, wash cloth, utensils, dishes and toys with the sick person.
7) Always clean your cart before use. Whenever you go shopping ensure that you wipe the cart handle with the sanitizing wipes provided usually at the entrance of most stores. Also do the same for handles and seats of the fitness equipment whenever you go to the gym.
8) Practise healthy habits. Eat balanced diet. Get adequate sleep.You can read more here. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables to ensure you have a strong immune system. Drinks lots of water. Exercise regularly. Ensure your house is clean. Disinfect all surfaces regularly.
If you suspect you have the flu from the signs and symptoms described, do not hesitate to see your doctor IMMEDIATELY. Delay could be very dangerous.
So folks, be safe out there.
Stay healthy, Live healthy.
" The doctor of the future will give no medicines, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the causes and prevention of disease."
- Thomas Edison
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