The Center for Disease Control estimates as many as 710,000 people were hospitalized due to Influenza A (the flu) during the 2015-2016 season. That’s a lot of misery as well as expense and time that was needlessly wasted. Flu shots probably would have prevented those hospitalizations and the millions of other flu cases that suffered at home.
“Seasonal influenza remains the number one cause of infectious disease death in the United States,” said David Blodgett, MD, MPH, director and health officer of the Southwest Utah Public Health Department. “The flu is the leading cause of lost work, economic loss, school absences, and make-up work.”
Get the facts, not the flu
Flu vaccines (shots) are usually available during early fall through winter. The vaccine changes yearly, so a flu shot should be done annually for the best protection. Flu vaccine is very safe and the most effective means of preventing, or lessening how severe an infection with the flu can be.
“Don’t get a flu shot too early,” warned Blodgett. “A flu shot given in July or August may not be effective the entire flu season. On the flip side, it is never too late to get a flu shot. Flu cases appear all the way through the winter. Mid to late September is usually the best time to get a flu shot.”
Get a clue, fight the flu.
The flu is highly contagious. It can be spread to others up to six feet away from an infected person sneezing, coughing, or just talking – even before they start to show symptoms. Wash hands often during flu season. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Cover coughs and sneezes. And most importantly, stay home when sick so as not to infect others, especially those who are most susceptible to the flu.
“The populations most at-risk for flu complications and hospitalizations are those over 65, the very young, as well as those that are immune compromised,” said Blodgett. “Infants under 6 months of age cannot be given the vaccine, but you are never too old to get a flu shot. High dose shots that encourage a better immune response are available for those ages 50-65. An even higher dose is available for those over age 65.”
The shot for the flu isn’t all about you
Some people are unable to receive a flu shot. People with life-threatening allergies to the vaccines or its ingredients, people with a history of Guillain-Barre Syndrome, and newborns under six months, can’t get a flu vaccine. These people must rely on herd immunity, or the idea that when most people get a flu vaccine, it helps protect the population as a whole.
“Most people that have had seasonal flu once, make the extra effort to get a flu shot every year after that,” said Blodgett. “It really is that bad. Symptoms include high fever, body aches, and sudden onset. If you’re not worried about getting the fluyourself, get a shot for those whose lives may depend on you not spreading it.”
The flu ends with U
“The single best way to prevent influenza and spreading the disease is to get a yearly flu shot,” said Blodgett. “It is absolutely the best and most effective way to avoid the flu.”
Don’t want to be sick? Get a flu shot quick!
Flu vaccines will be available at Dixie Regional Medical Center’s Annual LiVe Well Health Fair on September 15 from 10am to 2pm on the second floor concourse. Fees may apply. Free with most insurances. Other health screenings and services will also be available. Grand Opening self-guided tours of the new expanded hospital will also be available Saturday 10am to 7pm.
Don’t get caught without a shot
The Southwest Utah Public Health Department is holding its annual Flu Shoot-Out on Tuesday, September 25 at Red Cliffs Mall in St. George. 8am-1pm: Drive-thru (ages 18+) in parking lot. 12pm-5pm: Walk-in (families and all ages) inside the mall. $20. No charge with proof of most insurances. Save time – download, print, fill out, and bring a consent form @ swuhealth.org
This LiVe Well column represents collaboration between healthcare professionals from the medical staffs of our not-for-profit Intermountain Healthcare hospitals and The Spectrum & Daily News.
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