Time for your Flu Shot!

Did you know flu season is here??

Flu season is quickly approaching and we need to discuss PREVENTION and appropriate treatments!  The best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated EVERY YEAR!  The Centers for Disease Control talks about the three actions we can all take to protect ourselves and others against flu.

Lets take a dive into what we can collectively do to keep each other healthy!

  1. GET VACCINATED!!!

Everyone over the age of 6 months should get a flu vaccine each year, especially those that are high risk (we will talk about who is at high risk and who should not get a flu shot below).  Getting vaccinated has a lot of benefits – it reduces illness, doctor’s visits, time away from school and work and, most importantly, flu-related hospitalizations and deaths.  A very important 2017 study done by the CDC showed that vaccination decreases these complications by more than HALF https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2017/p0403-flu-vaccine.html!!!  That’s huge!

  1. Healthy Habits to Prevent Spread

Did I mention to get vaccinated??!!  Its also very important to use regular hygiene such as covering your cough, sneezing into your elbow, and HAND WASHING to help stop the spread of germs in general.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick and, when you are sick, please stay home!  Multiple viruses and bacteria are spread through coughing, sneezing, and touching each other – not just flu!  In the cold, we tend to gather inside, which means it is easier to spread illnesses such as RSV, whooping cough and the common cold as well!

WASH YOUR HANDS!  Lather soap and wring hands together for one minute to effectively kill germs.  If no hand-washing is available, use a alcohol-based hand sanitizer.  Come on in to New South Family Medicine and grab one!  We have plenty!

Make sure to disinfect touched surfaces at home, work and school, get plenty of rest, hydrate, stay active, manage your stress and eat nutritious foods!!

  1. Treatment

There are anti-viral medications available if one tests positive for the flu.  In most cases, it is not necessary to test or use anti-virals to diagnose and treat.  If you get sick, stay home, stay hydrated and avoid contact with others to prevent spread.

High Risk Groups , however, such as someone with cancer, asthma, diabetes, heart disease, young children or adults age 65 and older, are more likely to suffer complications.  We reserve anti-viral drugs for these patients, to try to decrease their illness time and prevent hospitalization.  At any point, if you aren’t sure about your illness, call Dr. Mendelsohn and Helen and we will guide you through your treatment options!

 There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about the flu vaccine. 

We know that the flu vaccine is not 100% failsafe.  We know that you can still contract a different strain of flu virus after getting the vaccine. There are many strains of flu viruses that spread and cause illness. The vaccine is “matched” each year to prevent the most likely strains, but it cannot cover all of them.  Just like we still get into accidents when we wear our seatbelts (especially on highway 160 in Fort Mill), it is less likely for us to get severely injured or hospitalized if we take proper precautions, but we can’t prevent every driver from accidents.

The flu vaccine CANNOT cause the flu.  The vaccine used to produce an immune response is either a killed virus or just part of the virus, therefore, not the full virus capable of multiplying and causing illness.  Most common side effects are soreness at the injection site and redness.  One can also get a low-grade fever, body and muscle aches or fatigue, but these are not as common.  Remember, we are mostly inside during colder months, so we pass along many other respiratory viral illnesses and bacteria that are also very common and take a week or two to multiply and cause symptoms.

So who should not get the flu vaccine?  There aren’t too many people that should avoid the flu shot.  Children younger than 6 months and people with severe, life-threatening allergies to the vaccine or any of its ingredients should avoid the flu shot.

So what about egg allergy?  As of the 2016-2017 flu season, the CDC recommends a flu vaccine for anyone that has a mild to moderate egg allergy.  If one can eat lightly cooked eggs, eggs in baked products, or hives after egg exposure, that person can safely receive a flu vaccine.  If someone has a more severe allergy, such as vomiting or difficulty breathing requiring an Epipen, they can still get a flu shot under a medically licensed physician’s supervision.

The CDC has a ton of information on the flu virus, vaccine and prevention.  We will follow the flu season together and treat appropriately.  While I am not offering flu vaccines this year, I have attached a list of local pharmacies in Fort Mill that provide affordable vaccines.  The York County and Mecklenburg County Health Departments are also excellent resources for vaccines.  I appreciate your patience as we work through this first year.  Our family medicine practice is growing and I hope to be able to offer flu and other vaccines in the near future!!!

Resources:

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm

FORT MILL PHARMACY   $25.00 FOR QUAD FLU

ALL WALMARTS                  $39.88 FOR QUAD FLU

PUBLIX                                   $45.00 FOR QUAD FLU (and $10 gift card)

HARRIS TEETER                    $40.00 FOR QUAD FLU

CVS                                          $32.00 FOR QUAD FLU

TARGET                                 $32.00 FOR QUAD FLU (and $5 gift card)

WALGREENS                      $36.00 FOR QUAD FLU