Time to Get Your Annual Flu Shot!

According to the Centers for Disease Control, last year’s flu season was the worst since 2009. Activity began to increase in November, reaching an extended period of high activity during January and February and remained elevated through the end of March. The percentage of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza was at or above the epidemic threshold for 16 consecutive


Please get your vaccination!

Remember, the vaccine takes time to build antibodies, and you want to make sure you’re protected when the flu hits your area. Flu vaccines take about two weeks to offer maximum protection and it’s possi- ble to contract influenza before or during that time period. There is no such thing as getting the flu vaccine too early although it can lose a little bit of its effectiveness after six months. Experts agree that you should get the vaccination by the end of October, though it is never too late!

There are two different types of vaccine: Quadrivalent and a high dosage shot for seniors. The Quadrivalent includes four different strains of the flu and closely mirrors the type of rampant flu seen last season. Flu vaccine effectiveness typically fluctuates between 40 percent and 60 percent. The na- sal spray that protects against the flu is only recommended for those ages 2 to 49 who are not pregnant. People with lung disease should not receive the spray flu vaccine.

Wash your hands every chance you get!

After you get your flu vaccine, keep wash- ing your hands with soap every chance you get! Clean and disinfect surfaces you share with others like grocery carts with disinfec- tant wipes. If you do have flu symptoms, stay home and try not to interact with others.

Other tips to avoid getting the flu:

  • Isolate toothbrushes to avoid contamina- tion. After the person gets well, be sure to replace the toothbrush or toothbrush head with a new
  • The best thing to do if someone is sick is to put them in a separate room to If this isn’t possible, wash your sheets frequently in hot water or even just the pillowcases every few days along with the bath towels.
  • a Kceoenptainer of antibacterial wipes

close by so you can clean television remotes, light switches and doorknobs daily. Put a small wastebasket in the TV room with a plastic liner for all the wet tissues and used wipes and empty it once or twice a day. Steer clear of hankies at all cost. Viruses can survive in a handkerchief for about a day and spread, and the same presumably goes for a used tissue, which is why it’s important to use it just once before tossing it into the trash.

On the horizon, researchers have suc- cessfully tested a universal flu vaccine made of nanoparticles (which are microscopic particles of matter) on mice. It is designed to protect against a wide variety of flu viruses but it will be a long time before it can be approved for use on humans. Several vac- cine prototypes are now entering the first stages of human safety testing. One vaccine removes the “head” of a protein coating the virus, where mutations often occur. Another alters the protein so that it’s alien to the immune system, triggering a response. Yet another combines four different proteins in hopes the immune system will mount defenses against multiple strains. Ideally, a universal vaccine would be given to people when they are young to hopefully create a lifetime of protection.

Flu symptoms vary from person to person. In general, people who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms, according to the CDC:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills (not every- one with flu will have fever)
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Vomiting and diarrhea, although this is more common in children than adults If you get the flu, ask your doctor about the antiviral drugs oseltamivir (Tamiflu), peramivir (Rapivab), and zanamivir (Re- lenza). Antiviral drugs may help decrease the severity of flu symptoms if taken within the first 48 hours. It is important to stay on your prescribed medications, such as bron- chodilators or inhaled steroids.

Cough medicines are not generally rec- ommended because they have not been shown to improve COPD symptoms. Cough suppressants should be avoided or used with caution, because they may reduce your ability to clear secretions from your lungs and may increase the risk of lung infection.