Fall is here and that means flu season is around the corner ready to wreak havoc in schools, workplaces and inevitably homes around the country.
This figures to be an especially bad flu season according to the CDC, which monitors global flu epidemics. Clinics will soon be stocking the vaccine and the CDC recommends getting the flu shot early.
Flu, what do you know? T or F?
1 More t han 20,000 children are hospitalized annually with flu. 2. If you never had flu you don't need the vaccine.
3. You can spread flu virus even if you aren't sick.
The CDC reports that “the flu” is more dangerous for children than the common cold. In fact, during last flu season more than 20,000 children younger than 5 years of age were hospitalized for treatment of flu.
The CDC recommends that those 6 months of age or older get the vaccine. Children with chronic health problems such as diabetes, asthma, and kidney disorders are particularly susceptible to complications of flu.
Some children will require two doses of the vaccine. The first dose should be given soon and the second dose at least 28 days afterward. This allows time for the first dose to prime the immune system and then allows for full immunity with the second dose.
It takes about two weeks after the vaccine for the body to develop immunity. Consultation with your pediatrician or family medicine physician is recommended early so a timetable can be determined for optimal protection.
Of course, adults are susceptible, too. In the coming months there will be some collegiate and professional athletes, seemingly the pillars of health, who contract flu. To prevent complete decimation of their clubs, sport teams often get vaccinated in groups in their locker rooms.
So, where does that leave us mere mortals? The CDC hopes it leaves us planning on getting our vaccines and preventing an influenza epidemic. On average, every flu season costs the lives of 24,000 Americans.
Each year the vaccine is re-formulated to fight the types of influenza virus that are prevalent during any particular season. As scientists refine their techniques and increase their knowledge vaccines are becoming more refined.
For example, for the first time there will be quadrivalent vaccine that will protect against four strains of influenza virus. In the past, the vaccine has targeted three strains. The four-strain vaccine is not universally available so discuss with your physician. All of the nasal spray vaccines, FluMist Quadrivalent, provide protection against four strains. The nasal spray is available for those ages 2-49 who are not pregnant. Some of the injections are the quadrivalent type but you have to ask.
There will be about 137 million doses of flu vaccine available and only about 30 million will be of the quadrivalent type.
There is good news for those with egg allergies. There is a vaccine made without the use of eggs. Again, you have to ask. As vaccine science progresses we will likely see less of the “one size fits all” and more vaccines targeted on the basis of demographics and health status. This may be confusing but may also be more effective.
Fall is my favorite time of year because of cool temperatures, beautiful trees, Halloween, Thanksgiving and football. For me, getting the flu vaccine is the only downside. But, it is nothing compared to getting sick from flu.
Answers: 1. T; 2. F; 3. T.
Dr. Lori Boyajian-O’Neill can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.