As the first month of 2018 comes to a close, it is obvious that the unfortunate symptoms and hospitalizations associated with the dire influenza season of 2017 have not been left behind in the year. The flu season continues to be one of the worst in over a decade (1). The flu has spread to every state and nearly 6.6% of all Americans have had the flu. This year’s dominant virus is the H3N2 virus, which has been circulating for nearly 50 years and is known as one of the most lethal of the seasonal strains. As a result, there have been over 37 pediatric deaths and in some areas a shortage of Tamiflu, the antiviral medication often prescribed by doctors to treat influenza. As we approach February, do not think that flu season will be over. Influenza season tends to peak between December-February and in most cases will last as late as May. If you have not taken the proper precautions by getting a flu shot, now is your time to do so!
How can the Flu Shot help?
In the report for the 2017-2018 Influenza season, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) stated that “getting the annual flu vaccine is the first and best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu” (2). Receiving a flu shot helps decrease your chances of catching the flu and minimizes the severity and longevity of the flu. This year, flu vaccines have been updated to better match circulating viruses. Many of these vaccines have been approved for children 6 months or older and pregnant women as well (check with your physician to identify which vaccines would be best for this demographic). Unfortunately, the elderly and young children/infants are most susceptible to the flu, so it is in your best interest to get a flu shot in order to protect yourself, and those around you.
The primary form of flu vaccines administered this season are quadrivalent, which means they contain antibodies that protect you against four kinds of flu viruses. This is why individuals who may have already become sick once are still encouraged to get the flu vaccine in order to protect themselves from other potential strains that they are still susceptible to. Furthermore, it is possible that you had mistaken allergy or common cold symptoms as influenza symptoms, still making it important for you to receive the vaccine.
Southern California is seeing an overwhelming amount of patients admitted to hospitals because of the flu, resulting in the establishment of triage tents and the shortage of influenza vaccines. Our office is proud to inform you that we are still offering flu shots! As we approach the peak in flu season, it is time for you to take control of your health. Come visit AIRE Medical Group for a flu shot as soon as possible!