Medical reports out of Australia contain some sobering news regarding the flu. The number of influenza cases this year is 2.5 times higher than the same time period last year. Since the flu season Down Under begins in July, this data may give us a glimpse of what to expect in the US this winter.
Good news, bad news
Although it is troubling to see a record number of cases in Australia, the good news is that this year’s vaccine matches quite well with the predominant Australian strain, H3N2. And, just like the composition of each year’s vaccine, which must be decided six months before the start of the flu season, predicting what the flu will do is at best an educated guess.
What to do? As is the case often in medicine, there is no perfect drug or vaccine for preventing the flu. The risks of an imperfect treatment must be weighed against its benefits. The flu can result in complications that lead to serious medical conditions. Because the flu vaccine is very safe, consider getting a flu shot.
WHY: Flu shots save lives.
Each year in the U.S., approximately 36,000 people die from influenza each year. The flu shot has shown to prevent 22% of influenza-related deaths, which means that flu shots save thousands of lives. Flu shots prevent complications. Another 200,000 people are hospitalized due to complications. Flu shots prevent more than 70% of hospitalizations in adults — which means they prevent thousands of hospital admissions.
Flu shots keep others from getting the flu. 20-30% of people infected with the influenza virus have no symptoms, which means they can easily transmit the infection to others — especially young children, elderly adults, people with chronic diseases, and people who have weakened immune systems. By getting a flu shot, you can avoid being a carrier of the virus — which keeps your family, coworkers and your friends healthier.
WHAT: This year’s flu shots are unique.
They’re called quadrivalent, which means they cover four strains of the flu. Previously, flu shots were trivalent, which means they only covered three strains of the flu. In addition, the quadrivalent flu shot is not incubated in eggs — which means people with an egg allergy can get the flu shot this year.
The flu shot isn’t a live vaccine, so it can’t make you ill. The most common side effects include soreness at the vaccine site and a mild headache or body aches.
WHO: The quadrivalent flu shot is appropriate for ages four years and older. Children ages 6 months – 4 years can receive the appropriate vaccine from their pediatrician.
HOW: Family Choice is open the earliest in Central Oregon, Monday-Friday 7am-7pm, and Saturday 8am – 4pm, and Sunday 10am – 4pm. To get a flu shot, you can schedule an appointment online or simply walk in.
WHEN: It takes 1-2 weeks to build up immunity after receiving a flu shot, so the sooner you get the vaccine, the better.
Family Choice Urgent Care is open 365 days per year to diagnose and treat any flu related symptoms. The top-notch staff is adept at quickly and affordably providing quality care. For additional information, call 541-213-2133.