Monday, October 23, 2006

Flu Prevention Season

It's fall again, which here in the northeast means leaves changing color and falling off the trees, shorter days, and cool, rainy weather. It also means that it's time to think about getting the flu vaccine to prevent getting the flu between now and spring time. I worked at a few local flu shot clinics this past week and because of some comments I heard I thought I should share what I know with the blogging community.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Flu Fact Sheet:
"Every year in the United States, on average:
5% to 20% of the population gets the flu;
more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications, and;
about 36,000 people die from flu.
Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications."
For as long as I can remember, I've had a flu vaccine every October or November and never had the flu or any reaction to the shot. Some people, such as those who have had severe reactions in the past to it, or are allergic to eggs should not receive the flu vaccine because they could have an allergic reation to it. Please see the CDC website above or talk to your MD for a full list of who shouldn't receive the vaccine. For the purposes of this post, I'm just going to mention a few scenarios that might apply to you and would be good reasons for someone to consider receiving the flu vaccine.
1. You have children, work with children, or volunteer in your child's classroom on a regular basis. Children 6 months and older can receive the vaccine.
2. You are a healthcare provider.
3. You take care of an elderly relative on a regular basis- who should also receive the vaccine if possible.
4. Any elderly person who lives in assisted living, nursing home, or any housing that has common eating and living areas shared by many.
5. You are not a hermit, come into contact with the general public a lot, and have diabetes, heart disease, asthma, or any other chronic illness that puts you at higher risk for becoming sicker than most. Most people are contagious at least 1 day before they are truly sick and 5 days after symptoms start.
6. Anyone who doesn't like the idea of being sick for 3-7+ days.

The flu is one of the most preventable illnesses- but it's up to you to decide whether to get the vaccine or take a chance and hope that you won't get it. Currently the vaccine is in good supply, though there is some concern about future shipments. Flu season peaks between late December and early March, so now is the time to talk to your doctor about whether you should receive the vaccine this year and where to get it if they aren't giving it (the clinics I ran were at local pharmacies). Anyway, that's my public service announcement for this season, my next post will be back to my usual topics. Here's to a happy and healthy fall!


Bernard said...

Thanks for the reminder Kate.

I've already had my flu shot thanks to a local pharmacy chain. Most of the major chains (Walgreens, CVS, etc.) in the Northeast start offering flu clinics in various branches at the start of October.

Depending on your insurance coverage the cost is either free, or about $25.

For the last few years, I've found this is a much more reliable way to get an early flu shot, than depending on my doctors office.

Kate said...

No problem, I figured since I had some interesting comments at the clinics everyone could use a gentle reminder:) And yes, sometimes it is more reliable to get a flu shot at a clinic depending on the doctors office and how they handle flu season.