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Is it still time to take the flu shot to avoid getting ill?

By Peter DiMaria

Two important pieces of advice from the CDC (Center for Disease Control) for elderly citizens in relation to the widespread flu:

  • Take your flu shot if you haven’t already;

  • Seek medical treatment if you present flu symptoms: the earlier, the better.

Home Care Manchester: prevent against the flu

Flu shots and elderly care Manchester

The CDC (Center for Disease Control) continues to alert the population about the widespread activity of the Influenza virus in the United States. All U.S. states but Hawaii are reporting widespread flu activity and 36 states are experiencing “high” influenza activity, including Connecticut and Massachusetts. This number was 26, the week before.

Some people may think that it is too late to take a flu shot, but the CDC still recommends vaccination for all persons 6 months of age and older, because the flu viruses should continue circulating among us probably until May.

The vaccination is crucial for people 65 years of age and older, as they are the ones most affected and most likely to suffer complications that lead to hospitalization. They currently have the highest hospitalization rates are among (136.5 per 100,000), followed by adults aged 50-64 years (33.2 per 100,000).

The CDC is also reporting a steep increase in the number of hospitalizations in relation to previous weeks.

In recent years, mild flu seasons tend to kill an average of 12,000 Americans, while severe flu seasons, like the current one, cause about 56,000 deaths.

Elderly Care Manchester: Is the vaccine effective?


One of the reasons that this flu season is causing more disease and death in the United States is the fact that the predominant virus circulating this year is the influenza A (H3N2), against which the vaccine is less effective. Last year, the vaccine effectiveness against this virus was of 32 % in the US, and it is estimated that the effectiveness is the same this year.

Still, even if not completely effective, it has been shown that people who are vaccinated may develop a less threatening flu, which, by itself is a reason to take the shot.

Also, the more people who get vaccinated, more difficult it is for the virus to circulate, in what physicians call “herd effect”. In short, it is not about one person having 32% of chance of being protected, but the fact that if 32% of the people are protected, chances are they form a barrier protecting those around them.

That’s why the CDC recommends that everyone over 6 months of age takes the vaccine.

Home care Enfield: early treatment

The CDC is also alerting doctors and the public about the importance of early treatment with antiviral medications in people who are severely ill and people who are at high risk of serious flu complications, like older citizens.

The December 27 health advisory published via CDC’s Health Alert Network (HAN) highlights the potential for influenza A(H3N2) virus-predominant seasons to be associated with more hospitalizations and deaths in persons aged 65 years and older and young children compared with other age groups.

For this reason, it is crucial to seek treatment as soon as flu symptoms are noticed. Don’t wait until you feel really sick.

Home Care Suffield: What are the flu symptoms?

  • Fever* or feeling feverish/chills;

  • Cough;

  • Sore throat;

  • Runny or stuffy nose;

  • Muscle or body aches;

  • Headaches;

  • Fatigue (tiredness);

  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

According to the CDC, Pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus and ear infections are examples of complications from flu. The flu can make chronic health problems worse. For example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks while they have the flu, and people with chronic congestive heart failure may experience worsening of this condition that is triggered by the flu.

 

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