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Flu Season Health, Vaccinations and Prevention

flu season vaccine

Flu season is here. To protect yourself and others, it’s important to schedule a flu shot with your Primary Care Provider.

2016 Flu Vaccine Update

If you have kids, the American Academy of Pediatrics no longer recommends the nasal spray vaccine after studies showed poor effectiveness. Therefore, our clinicians only offer the shot vaccine.

For this year, there are still several good flu shots options available:

  • For children age six months to three years, we have the injectable quadrivalent flu vaccine. This contains four strains of influenza.
  • For children age three years and older and all adults, we also have the injectable quadrivalent flu vaccine with the same four strains.
  • While most people with egg allergies can still get a flu shot, there is a completely egg-free injectable option that is approved for people age 18 years and older.
  • For adults age 65 years and older, we can provide the injectable high-dose flu vaccine that provides extra protection against three of the flu strains expected to circulate in our community.

Common questions about flu vaccinations

How well does the flu vaccine project someone from the flu?
There are many different strains of influenza, so the vaccine—and its effectiveness—can vary from year to year. Each year a vaccine is developed to match the strains expected to be prevalent in the coming flu season. While it is impossible to predict the prevalent strains exactly, the vaccine is the best defense against the flu. Its effectiveness also depends on your typical health; the vaccine is effective, but it won’t make you invincible.

Is there a vaccination for children and a different vaccination for adults?
There are two different types of flu vaccines: trivalent, which protects against three strains of the flu, and quadrivalent, which protects against four. Ask your provider which vaccine is best for you.

Which is better, the shot vaccine or the spray vaccine?
The shot vaccine is more effective. As of 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics no longer recommends the nasal spray vaccine after studies showed poor effectiveness.

Can you get the flu shot if you are pregnant?
Yes! The elderly, those in poor general health and pregnant patients are at particular risk of influenza, making it an even higher priority to get vaccinated.

Where/when can I get a flu shot?
You can set up an appointment to receive a flu shot by calling your provider.

To learn more about influenza, vaccines and risk factors, visit www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm or contact your provider.

Staying healthy during flu season

While the best way to stay healthy this flu season is to get vaccinated, here are some other things you can do to protect yourself:

1.  Practice good hand hygiene. Encourage everyone in your family to practice regular hand-washing, especially after using the bathroom, before and after handling or eating food and after coming in from the outdoors. Hand-washing is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick and prevent the spread of germs to others.

When soap and water aren’t available, gel sanitizers or wipes containing 60-90 percent ethyl alcohol or isopropanol are the next best thing. Keep these in your car, purse or desk. Using a dime-size amount of gel, rub your hands together, covering all surfaces of the skin and nails, until the gel is dry.

2.  Take cover. Get into the habit of sneezing into your inner elbow. If you have a tissue, cover your nose and mouth with it when you sneeze or cough.

3.  Don’t touch. Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose or mouth with your hands.

4.  Replace and wash items. Buy a new toothbrush after a cold or other illness. Wash your bedding at least once a week, especially pillow covers. Wash gloves, scarves and any other attire that covers your face or mouth. This is helpful in keeping germs away.

5.  Stay hydrated. Dry nasal passages make it easier for the flu virus to breed, so its important to drink plenty of fluids. Water is a natural moisturizer for the inside of your body. Aim for eight cups of water a day. Swap out fizzy carbonated drinks for herbal tea. Increase your fluid intake if you are on a high-fiber or high-protein diet.

6.  Keep it colorful. Eating lots of junk food, skipping meals and consuming lots of caffeine can increase your chances of becoming ill. Eating a well-balanced meal comprised of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins can help keep you healthy. Need some food inspiration? Check out some of these healthy recipes: http://blog.affinityhealth.org/?s=recipes

7.  Take time to relax. Managing stress and making time for relaxing activities is very important in maintaining good health. Meditation, exercise, napping, getting a massage or reading is a good way to reduce stress. Carving out “white space” in your calendar so you can fit these things into your life is the first step in claiming some “me” time.

8.  Get some ZZZZs.  According to the National Sleep Foundation adults need between seven to nine hours of sleep a night. A lot of Americans do not get enough sleep. Lack of sleep wreaks havoc on your health and can make you more susceptible to illnesses. It can contribute to work errors, car crashes and industrial disasters. Sleep deprived individuals are also more likely to suffer from chronic conditions such as diabetes, depression, obesity, etc.

Hopefully, following these tips will help you stay healthy! If you do get sick, treat yourself kindly. It takes energy for your body to fight the organisms making you sick. Stay home to avoid spreading germs. Rest, proper nutrition and hydration will help. Stay well!

What you need to know about Enterovirus D68, also known as EV-D68

shutterstock_76659340There’s a good chance you’ve heard about Enterovirus D68, or EV-D68, a rare virus similar to the common cold that is infecting U.S. children across the Midwest. Here’s what you need to know about this virus:

What is it?
EV-D68 is an infection that can cause mild to severe respiratory illness. The virus can be found in saliva, nasal mucus and sputum. It is spread from person to person when an infected person coughs, sneezes or touches contaminated surfaces. Washing hands can help reduce the risk of catching or spreading the virus.

Who is at risk?
Infants, children and teenagers are most likely to get infected because they do not have immunity from previous exposures to this virus. Children with asthma have a higher risk for respiratory illness and should take all of their regularly prescribed medication and have rescue medications on hand. Infections are more common in the summer and fall months.

What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of EV-D68 infection aren’t much different than common respiratory viruses like influenza or respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

Symptoms include:
• Cough
• Runny nose
• Shortness of breath
• Sneezing
• Body and muscle aches
• Fever

Severe symptoms may include wheezing or difficulty breathing. If at any time your child is having difficulty breathing, has blue lips or is gasping for air, please seek immediate medical attention.

What are the treatments?
There is no specific treatment for people infected with EV-D68. Over-the-counter medications will help relieve some of the mild respiratory symptoms mentioned above. Aspirin should not be given to children.

What can be done to prevent contraction of EV-D68?
You can help stop potential outbreaks/infections by following these prevention tips: Continue Reading »

Cold vs. flu: how to read and treat your symptoms

Cough, congestion, aches, chills. Cold and flu season is upon us. But which do you have? And why does it matter?

Both the common cold and influenza (the flu) are respiratory illnesses, but flu symptoms are more severe than the common cold and can lead to complications such as pneumonia or bacterial infections.

Get the Flu FACTS

While many cold symptoms can mimic the flu, there are five FACTS that generally point to influenza:

  • Fever
  • Aches
  • Chills
  • Tiredness
  • Sudden symptoms

Continue Reading »

Treating a stomach bug

Did you know that the flu shot we get in the fall is NOT for the “stomach flu”? You know, the vomiting and diarrhea bug? We get many calls at NurseDirect from people who have gotten the flu shot and can’t understand why they have vomiting and diarrhea. The flu shot is for upper respiratory problems, headaches, body aches, sore throats and the overall hit-by-a-truck feeling. So the influenza shot you get in the fall will unfortunately not protect you from the stomach bug that seems to ravage the Valley in the fall and winter.

This gastroenteritis, or stomach flu as it is frequently called, seems to hit hardest later in the year but can appear all year long. Often times it starts suddenly with an onslaught of vomiting over and over, followed by diarrhea right behind it. Although it seems endless at the time, the worst of the vomiting usually ends after 8-10 hours. The diarrhea tapers off, but doesn’t completely leave your system for several days. Remember though, everyone’s immune system is different and these viral bugs hit people differently. All models vary! You may or may not have fever with this bug.

There can be a lot of abdominal cramping with the stomach flu. Typically the cramps build up until you vomit or pass some stool. It lets up a little, only to build up and start the cycle again. Now, this is the important part! If the cramps or pain become constant and relentless it may not be the stomach flu. It is important to distinguish this difference between constant pain and intermittent-type pain. Constant pain could indicate something more serious and you need to see your doctor! Continue Reading »

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