To vaccinate or not to vaccinate is the question for many healthy adults when it comes to the flu. While some people may refuse based on past experience or incorrect information, Dr. Iftikhar Ali, Medical Director of American Family Care (AFC), warns that no one is immune to potentially serious complications from the flu virus.
“Many people mistakenly believe that if they are relatively healthy, they don’t need a flu shot,” said Dr. Ali. “But it’s estimated over 57,000 people in the U.S. died from the flu last year. Even if you feel that you may not need the flu shot, it is important to get the vaccine so that you can protect your loved ones or those people whose immune systems are compromised.”
In fact, Dr. Ali two of our seven urgent care center have already seen its first confirmed case of Influenza A this past week. All AFC centers offer convenient, quick flu shots without an appointment.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the flu shot prevented an estimated 7.1 million illnesses and 8,000 deaths during last year’s unusually long duration of widespread high influenza activity across the nation.
Not to be confused with a stomach virus, true influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness. Serious outcomes of flu infection can result in hospitalization or death. Older adults and young children are at high risk for serious flu complications, as well as people with certain health conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting vaccinated each year.
"Some people may be concerned about an allergic reaction, but new studies show that severe allergic reactions, even in people with egg allergies, are unlikely," explains Dr. Ali. “New recommendations are for everyone over the age of 6 months to get vaccinated.”
Dr. Ali recommends getting the influenza vaccine as soon as it is available, preferably by October. It takes about two weeks after the vaccination for protection to set in. Children aged six months through eight years old who require two doses should receive the first dose as soon as possible. Flu season is generally between November and April with peaks usually in January or February.
In addition to the flu shot, Dr. Ali offers ways to avoid contracting and spreading the virus:
Kill influenza viruses on surfaces using chemical germicides, including chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, detergents (soap), iodophors (iodine-based antiseptics), and alcohols. Human influenza viruses generally can survive on surfaces between 2 and 8 hours.
Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
If you are sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol or non-alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth prior to handwashing.
Symptoms of the flu include:
fever or feeling feverish/chills
runny or stuffy nose
muscle or body aches, headaches
Cold symptoms are usually milder than the symptoms of flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems.
“Because colds and flu share many symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone,” notes Dr. Ali. “Rapid flu tests are usually performed within the first few days of illness to diagnose the flu.”
If a person does get the flu, it is recommended that Tamiflu, an antiviral medication used to treat influenza infection, is started within 48 hours of flu symptoms.
"The best treatment is to prevent the flu in the first place," said Dr. Ali. "The rewards definitely outweigh any risks associated with the vaccine."
AFC locations are open Monday through Friday from 8 am-8 pm and weekends from 8 am-5 pm. No appointment is required and care is dispensed with the utmost quality and efficiency. The centers are located at 1171 East Main St. Torrington CT; 135 East Main St., New Britain CT; 1030 Boulevard West Hartford, CT; 179 Talcottville Rd., Vernon, CT; Danbury locations 2 Main St., 100 Mill Plain Rd & 76C Newtown Rd. All locations offer convenient, private parking. For more information visit www.afcurgentcare.com.
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