Hey everyone, it’s Medicine Mondays again. I’ve been feeling a little sick this past weekend and today. I don’t think it’s the flu, but it might be. So today I wanted to talk about “The Flu and You”.
The Flu and You
Previously, I tried to remind everyone how important getting your PPD placed was as health care providers. However, today I want to focus on how important getting your flu shot is.
The truth of the matter is that getting the flu shot isn’t really for you. By getting your flu shot, you are doing your best to control outbreaks of the most common flu viruses this season. You, as someone with a strong immune system, can help prevent the spread of the more common flu viruses. This is especially important in the hospital or other health care settings when you will come into contact with people who are immunocompromised.
Also, people tend to forget. People DIE from the flu.
In this article from the latimes which just came out today, the death toll from flu (in patients over 65) is already 27 in California. It’s also important to understand that these statistics underestimate the death toll because it excludes patients older than 65.
“Each year, the number of flu deaths reported by the state includes only people younger than 65 and therefore underestimates the flu’s real toll, since elderly people are most likely to succumb to the illness, experts say. In Los Angeles County, 33 people have died of the flu this season and only a handful were under 65, Gunzenhauser said.” – from the article
Additionally combination of getting the flu and pneumonia is especially worrisome in the elderly.
People DIE from the flu
It happens every year and will continue to happen every year.
“Even in the absence of a pandemic, a severe flu year kills nearly 650,000 people worldwide, while a mild one kills just under 300,000, the study concluded.” – NY Times (emphasis mine)
For more detailed information, you can go to this article published in The Lancet.
The Myth of it being “Too Late”
It’s not “too late” to get your flu shot — there’s still at least 3 more months left in flu season.
“The vaccine can also mean not getting sick and then infecting someone who might not recover so easily. Nationwide, 13 children have died of influenza this flu season.’ – (emphasis mine)
I don’t know how many children we could have saved if more people got the flu shot, but isn’t the chance of saving even 1 child worth getting a flu shot for?
What is H3N2?
H3N2 is this particular season’s flu virus mutant for which the flu vaccine is not very good against preventing. Australia (who’s flu season starts in July/August) was reporting approximately 10% effectiveness, but that may skewed slightly because their recommendations for flu vaccines are relatively lax compared to the United States:
“Far fewer Australians are immune because flu shots there are recommended only for health care workers and people at high risk — those who are pregnant, have diabetes, obesity, lung problems, compromised immunity or other factors. Health authorities in the United States recommend flu shots for everyone older than six months.” – NY Times
The vaccine may be more effective here in the United States because of a larger population that receive the vaccine, experts are estimating ~30% effectiveness.
Other than getting the flu shot, what else can I do?
Well, as I think most people know, you are actually the most contagious before you even start showing symptoms.
The best prevention outside of the flu shot is good hand hygiene and vigilance:
Wash your hands often. Avoid close contact with anyone coughing or sneezing.
Also, I think it bears repeating, but many people do not know how to wash their hands correctly. Just simply getting some soap on your hands and rinsing them in the sink is not enough.
From CDC.gov (emphasis mine):
- Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
Wet, Soap, Lather, 20 seconds
Get your Flu Shot if you haven’t already.
Wash your hands often.
Avoid close contact with anyone coughing or sneezing.
The Flu KILLS people — never forget that.
Agree? Disagree? Questions, Comments and Suggestions are welcome.
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