The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Enid Features

October 12, 2012

Be prepared, get flu shot

ENID, Okla. — Last year’s flu season started late and ended up being one of the mildest ever, but that’s no reason to be complacent this year. The Centers for Disease Control is again recommending universal vaccination — a flu shot for virtually everyone age six months and older as soon as possible after the vaccine becomes available in your area.

Flu seasons vary in severity and timing; the only thing that can be predicted is that there will be one. Between 1976 and 2006, flu-associated deaths have ranged from 3,000 to 49,000 a year.

Factors that can affect the severity include what flu strains are circulating, how well the vaccines for that year match those strains and how many individuals get the vaccine.

For most of us, the flu means a week or two of misery and significant lost time from work or school. That’s bad enough, but a certain number of persons each year develop life-threatening complications such as pneumonia or worsening of asthma or heart failure.

Immunization is crucial for the most vulnerable persons, including: persons with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart or lung disease; pregnant women; seniors age 65 and over, and young children. Persons who live with or care for persons at risk of complications should also be sure to get a flu shot.

Those who should not get a shot include anyone who has a severe allergy to chicken eggs; has had a severe reaction to a previous flu shot; is moderately to severely ill with a fever at the time; or has a history of Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

Flu viruses are constantly changing, and the vaccine each year is developed to protect against the three viruses public health experts expect to be most prevalent: an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)pdmo9-like virus, an A/Victoria/361/2011 (H3N2)-like virus, and a B/Wisconsin/1/2010-like virus from the B/Yamagata line of viruses.

Although flu season usually peaks in January and February, infections can start occurring as early as October. Since it takes about two weeks for the antibodies to develop and start providing full protection, doctors recommend getting a flu shot as soon as the vaccine becomes available.

Shots are readily available in most communities–at pharmacies, supermarkets, shopping centers, schools, churches and community centers.

If you don’t see a notice in the paper or on the bulletin board, contact your local health department, Visiting Nurses’ Association or American Lung Association. You can also use the Flu Vaccine Finder (flushot.healthmap.org) or Google.

Any worry about catching the flu from getting a shot is unfounded; the vaccine is made from a killed or inactivated virus that has been tested and approved for use.

You have three options: the regular shot for persons age 6 months and older; a high-dose shot for individuals age 65 and over; and an intradermal shot (injected into the skin rather than a muscle using a small needle) for persons age 18-64.

In addition, there is a nasal spray made from weakened rather than killed virus. It is a mist to be sprayed into the nose and is recommended for healthy persons age 2-49, but not for pregnant women or other possibly vulnerable individuals.

Unfortunately, vaccination against the flu is not 100 percent effective. Any flu illness you get, however, is likely to be less severe if you’ve had a shot.

Other ways to protect yourself are the same as for other upper respiratory infections such as colds. Viruses are usually spread on airborne droplets made when someone with the flu coughs, sneezes or talks. So it’s important to steer clear of anyone around you who seems to be coming down with an infection. You should also practice good cough etiquette yourself and teach it to your children.

The virus can also linger on surfaces such as doorknobs and stair railings so frequent hand washing during flu season is important, particularly when someone in your household is ill.

As a viral infection, the flu will not respond to antibiotics, but antiviral medications such as Tamiflu and Relenza can lessen the effect of the illness. Much more than a bad cold, the flu may require a trip to the doctor.

Rupp is a certified information and referral specialist on aging for NODA Area Agency on Aging. Contact her at 237-2236.

1
Text Only
Enid Features
Featured Ads
AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
NDN Video
Jabari Parker's Top 5 Plays From Duke Career Kourtney Kardashian Is a Bikini Babe More Manpower Than Ever Expected At 4/20 Rally Debunk'd: Miley Cyrus AIDS, Cheeseburgers Cause Cancer, Military Warning Bill Previewing the NBA playoffs Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite My name is Cocaine Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Lohan Gets Candid About Her Sex List The 2014 New York Auto Show Meet Johnny Manziel's New Girlfriend Chelsea Clinton Announces Pregnancy Funny: Celebrating Easter with Martha Stewart and Friends Man Accuses 'X-Men' Director Bryan Singer of Sexually Abusing Him As a Teenager Man hit with $525 federal fine after he doesn't pay for soda refill Lea Michele & Naya Rivera Feuding? Jabari Parker declares for the NBA draft Singing Nun Belts Out Cyndi Lauper New West, Texas Explosion Video Swim Daily, Throwback Thursday
House Ads
Comics