Flu Season Starts

Taking the bite out of the flu bug can be as simple as getting the flu shot. Although not full proof, research shows that people who get the shot are 70 to 90 percent less likely to contract the flu.

For the past 15 years Ruth Bailey has gotten the shot. Her main reason?

"To keep from getting the flu! I don't want it!" Bailey said.

Spread through coughing, sneezing or even sometimes just talking, the airborne virus can cause fever, headaches, dry coughs and muscle aches. Although present in the body, doctors say it can take up to four days for symptoms to occur. Even during this time they say the virus can be spread.

Doctor Linda Pollock works at Greater Meridian Health Clinic. One myth she says many people have about the flu is that it can be caused by the flu shot.

"But that's not possible because this is not a vaccine that has a live virus. This is a killed virus," said Dr. Linda Pollock, Greater Meridian Health Clinic.

Another thing Dr. Pollock says people should know is that children with the flu should not be given aspirin.

"Years ago it was discovered that giving children aspirin when they have a viral illness is associated with a condition called Reye Syndrome. It can cause mental status changes in the child and liver damage and perhaps some longtime neurological problems," Dr. Pollock said.

Most people who get the flu recover in one to two weeks. However, some people will develop life-threatening complications. That's why doctors say it's good for everyone to get the flu shot, especially the elderly and anyone who suffers from a chronic illness."

This is a recommendation, which Ruth Bailey says she takes seriously.

"The shot stings just a little, but it's worth it!" said Bailey.

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Influenza Vaccine

  • Much of the illness and death caused by influenza can be prevented by annual influenza vaccination.

  • Influenza vaccine is specifically recommended for people who are at high risk for developing serious complications as a result of influenza infection.

  • These high-risk groups are:
    • All people age 65 and older.
    • People of any age with chronic diseases of the heart, lungs or kidneys, diabetes, immunosuppression, or severe forms of anemia.
    • Residents of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities housing patients of any age.
    • Women who will be more then three months pregnant during influenza season.
    • Children and teenagers who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy and who may therefore be at risk for developing Reye syndrome after an influenza virus infection.

  • Overall vaccine effectiveness varies from year to year, depending upon the degree of similarity between the influenza virus strains included in the vaccine and the strain or strains that circulate during the influenza season.

  • Influenza vaccine produced in the United States cannot cause influenza.

  • The only type of influenza vaccine that has been licensed in the United States is made from killed influenza viruses, which cannot cause infection.

When to receive the influenza vaccine

  • In the United States, influenza usually occurs from about November until April, with activity peaking between late December and early March.

  • The optimal time for vaccination of persons at high risk for influenza-related medical complications is during October through November.

  • It takes about 1 to 2 weeks after vaccination for antibody against influenza to develop and provide protection.

Source: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/flu/fluvac.htm ( The Center for Disease Control Vaccine Information Web site)