I know most of us don’t want to think about fall yet, especially given the high temperatures and beautiful weather we’ve been having. However, the time has come for me to give my annual encouragement for you to go out and get your yearly influenza vaccination, more commonly called the flu shot. While most people associate the flu shot with dropping temperatures and changing leaves, now is actually the perfect time to get it. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older should get their yearly flu shot as soon as the current season's vaccines are available. Believe it or not most hospitals, pharmacies and doctors’ offices have already received their first shipments of flu vaccine. In fact, we started offering it to patients at Borgess in early August.
Every year approximately 22,000 people die from the flu in the United States. The majority of these deaths occur in the young, the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions. However, anyone can be affected. Last year I treated a lot of young previously health patients in the intensive care unit for the flu and its associated complications and unfortunately not all of them survived. There is no way to avoid being exposed to the flu so the easiest way to avoid the risk is to get your flu shot. Getting vaccinated does not guarantee you won’t get sick since there are hundreds of types of flu viruses and the flu shot only protects against 3 or 4. However, the scientists involved select the flu viruses that are most common and dangerous for each flu season in order to provide the best protection.
Like with anything prevention is key. You don’t wait till the first snow storm to get your car ready for winter so why wait till flu season has arrived to get your shot? Getting the vaccine now gives your body time to build its immunity, that way when the flu season gets into full swing you’re already protected. There are several different flu vaccine options available this year. The best way to determine which one is best for you is to talk to your doctor or pharmacist. You can also go to www.flu.gov or http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/index.htm to obtain more detailed information.
-Contact Justin Rak @ Jrak318@gmail.com