Vaccination is the Best Protection Against the Flu! Get the 2017-2018 Flu Vaccine!
With flu season fast approaching, health officials are concerned that we could be looking at bad one this year. The Southern Hemisphere – particularly Australia has been hard hit over the past several months with the H3N2 flu strain which is known for causing severe disease – especially among Elders. For Samish Tribal Members who haven’t already done so, October is a great time to get the flu vaccine! The CDC recommends everyone 6 months of age and older get a flu vaccine. Yearly vaccination is the single best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from seasonal influenza.
For the 2017-2018 flu season, flu vaccines have been updated to better match and protect against circulating flu viruses. The CDC recommends only the use of the flu shot. The nasal spray flu vaccine is not recommended again this year because of its lack of effectiveness. Some of the other vaccine choices available this flu season include: 1) The traditional standard-dose trivalent vaccine - protects against three flu viruses: One can be given with a jet injector for persons’ age 18 to 64 years; a high dose vaccine for people 65 and older; an egg-free vaccine for those 18 and older including pregnant women; and a vaccine with an adjuvant ingredient that helps create a stronger immune response for those 65 and older, which is new this season. 2) Quadrivalent vaccines (protect against four flu viruses): There are flu shots approved for use in different age groups, including children as young as 6 months; an intra-dermal vaccine with a much smaller needle for people 18 through 64 years of age; a vaccine containing a virus grown in cell culture approved for those 4 years of age and older; and, new this season, a flu shot for people 18 years of age and older including pregnant women. There is no preference for one vaccine over the other. Should you have questions about the type of flu vaccine that is best for you, your doctor or health care provider can help you decide upon the best course of action.
Other flu prevention strategies include washing your hands often with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, covering coughs, avoiding touching your eyes nose and mouth, keeping away from people who are sick and staying home when you are sick to help protect you and others from the flu.
Certain groups of people are especially encouraged to get vaccinated because they are at higher risk of having flu complications. These include young children, Elders (65 and older), pregnant women, people with certain chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease, health care workers, people who live with or care for high risk individuals; those who have close contact with babies under 6 months of age – too young to receive the flu vaccine; and, American Indians and Alaska Natives, who are more likely to get seriously ill from the flu compared to the general population.
For people who are sick with the flu, the CDC recommends the use of antiviral medications for the treatment and prevention of influenza. Prompt treatment with antivirals begun within 48 hours of getting sick can make the illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. If you have any flu-like symptoms such as fever/chills, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, cough, headache, runny or stuffy nose contact your health care provider to see if antiviral medications can make you feel better faster.
The cost of the flu vaccine is typically covered by Medicare, Medicaid, most health insurance providers and by Samish Contract Health.
The information in this report has been compiled from the CDC and various other relevant government agencies and is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional health-care provider.
To find a flu vaccine in your area: http://www.lung.org/lung-health-and-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/influenza/find-a-flu-shot.html.
For more information about the 2017-2018 seasonal flu, please visit: www.cdc.gov/flu/ or http://www.cdc.gov/features/flu/index.html. The Washington State Department of Health also offers a number of resources to promote seasonal flu vaccination. You can visit their site at: https://www.doh.wa.gov/YouandYourFamily/IllnessandDisease/Flu.
If you haven’t already done so, please get your flu shot to help protect yourself and the people around you from catching influenza this year.
Wishing You a Happy and Healthy Flu-Free Season!
Mitch Markovich, RN
Samish Public Health Services