The flu is a serious disease. Treat it so.
By Dr. Veita Bland
This time of year your healthcare providers will be asking you to get a flu shot. It is remarkable to me that so many people do not want to get them. The reason people give for not wanting to receive their flu vaccines run the gamut. Let me give some facts about why receiving a flu shot is good for you and the community in which you live.
The flu virus changes each year, which makes it unpredictable. The protection that you received from last year’s vaccine will decrease with time and it may not be for the flu strains that are prominent this year. That is why you need to get a flu vaccine annually.
Each new vaccine will go through years of research and through three phases of clinical trials before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) certifies it is safe and effective. Only then is it made available for the public to receive. The CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC-P) and the FDA routinely monitor the safety of all vaccines.
How does the vaccine work? Vaccines cause your body to produce antibodies which are infection fighting cells that allow your body to fight the flu when you are exposed to it.
Remember, it takes two weeks for these antibodies to develop so you need to get the vaccine before being exposed to the flu.
The flu vaccine contains an inactivated virus or no flu virus at all. This means it is impossible for it to give you the flu.
There can be some common side effects that are seen with the flu shot which include soreness, redness and or swelling at the injection site. Some people may develop fever, headache and /or muscle aches. This is an indication that your body is developing an immune response which is what it is supposed to do.
The flu is spread by droplets in the air that are produced when someone sneezes, coughs or talks. These droplets spread up to six feet away and they can live on hard surfaces for up to 48 hours.
The flu vaccine is recommended for anyone six months of age and older. Children have the highest rate of infection from the flu. They and the elderly are most vulnerable. The vaccine has been shown to prevent death in otherwise healthy children by 65 percent and to reduce the risk of the flu by 60 percent. Between 2004 and 2018, approximately 1,650 children died from the flu in the United States.
When you get a flu shot you protect yourself and others.
Additionally, wash your hands often. Stay home if you do not feel well. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth to avoid spreading germs. Cough into elbows and not your hands to avoid sharing germs. Clean and disinfect surfaces at home, work, or school especially when someone is sick.
If you do get sick ,remember that antiviral medications work best when taken within 48 hours of the onset of illness.
The CDC recommends getting a flu shot annually by the end of October, so the time is now. Remember, the flu is a serious disease. Treat it so.
Dr. Veita Bland is a board-certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on N.C. A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wed. Email Dr. Bland at firstname.lastname@example.org.