It may be an old song and dance, but the flu season is nearly here and it’s important to be prepared. Here is some important information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Do not vaccinate your children with the nasal spray, also known as the live attenuated influenza (LAIV) vaccine, this year. While this vaccine has helped those 2 years through 17 years of age avoid the needle, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted to not recommend it this year based on its low effectiveness during last year’s influenza season compared to the shots. This follows on the heels of a poor showing for this vaccine from the 2013- 14 and 2014-15 flu seasons.
- Those 6 months and older should get vaccinated with either the inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV) or the recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV) by the end of October. While you can get the vaccine after that, it is best to get it before flu season is underway.
- Consult with your physician to see if you are a candidate for antiviral drugs. According to the CDC, “It’s very important that antiviral drugs are used early to treat hospitalized patients, people with severe flu illness, and people who are at high risk of serious flu complications based on their age or health.
- Know the difference between a cold and the flu and get the facts on the flu vaccine.
- Practice good hygiene to avoid getting or spreading the flu – wash your hands; cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze; do not touch your eyes, nose and mouth; clean and disinfect surfaces that may be contaminated.
- If you get sick, stay home. You can rejoin humanity when your fever has been gone for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication.
Here at Banner Health we have a No Flu for You program that mandates employees, providers and volunteers all get flu shots or, if there are reasons we cannot get the vaccine, take precautions by wearing a mask when we are around patients and visitors. This practice ensures we are protecting our patients from the flu as well as ourselves and our families. Why is getting vaccinated against the flu so important?
Flu by the numbers
Consider these statistics from the CDC:
- Over 31 flu seasons, from 1976 – 2007, the organization estimates that influenza-associated deaths range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000.
- Last year, nearly 90 percent of flu-related deaths were in those 65 or older.
- The influenza vaccine is the best way to reduce such complications. The CDC cites one study showing a 71 percent reduction in flu-related hospitalizations in all adults.
- Even if you get sick after you are vaccinated, the vaccine can provide some protection against complications.