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Got Flu Shots?

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Got Flu Shots?

There’s a twinge of fall in the air, which brings hope for relief from the summer heat, the start to the school year and longing for the upcoming holiday season. However, cooler weather also fosters flu season, which means now is the time to prepare by getting a flu shot.

We sat down with Dr. Emily Hebert, Platinum Physician for Cooper Clinic, to discuss the flu shot and its importance for overall health and wellness.

When is flu season?

Flu season begins in early fall, usually around early October, and lasts through March or early April. Unfortunately, depending on how effectively flu strains are suppressed by flu shots, flu season can occasionally last later into the spring and summer.

Who should get a flu shot?

Starting with babies ages six months, everybody should get a flu shot. Those who are the most susceptible to getting the flu and/or experiencing complications from the flu such as pregnant women, children, the elderly and those with chronic illnesses, including those with diabetes, asthma and other coronary and lung diseases.

Why is getting a flu shot important?

First of all, getting a flu shot is important for protecting yourself. If you do not get immunized against the flu, you are more susceptible to it. Additionally, getting a flu shot protects those around you. Statistics have shown that if more people under the age of 65 would get a flu shot each year, the number of people older than 65 who get the flu would be greatly reduced.

It’s a common belief that people do not get very sick from the flu, but in actuality, the flu can be an extremely painful and serious illness to deal with, and can even cause death in some cases.

What’s up with different strains of the flu?

Flu shots are developed each year by using inactive strains of the flu. These strains are determined by scientists and doctors who study the flu season in the other hemisphere – such as Australia – and determine which strains will likely be seen in the United States. The estimations are usually 70-80 percent correct, but some strains of the flu might not be suppressed by the immunization. This is usually the case when someone who gets a flu shot still comes down with the flu.

Are there any side effects of the flu shot?

The most common side effect of the flu shot is pain at the injection site. On very rare occasions, Guillain-Barre syndrome, a neurological disorder, has been linked to the flu shot.

Many people believe that you can get the flu from getting a flu shot, but this is completely false. It is impossible to contract the flu from a non-living virus. It takes two weeks for the flu shot to give you immunity from the flu, so if a person contracts the virus before getting his or her shot or during the two-week period after getting a shot, they can still get sick. Often times this is confused with contracting the flu from the flu shot itself.

What are your recommendations for preventing the flu?

First and foremost, get a flu shot! You should also wash your hands and use hand sanitizer frequently. In addition, avoid sick people. This sounds like a no-brainer, but many people come in to the office or go to school if they’re feeling under the weather. If you notice a coworker showing symptoms, try to steer clear. And, if you’re feeling under the weather, save yourself and your colleagues by staying home!

Can exercise and a healthy diet help when it comes to preventing the flu?

Yes! Exercise usually leads to overall health and wellness, and those who exercise tend to have a better immune system than those who do not exercise. Similarly, a healthy diet contributes to overall health and can play a major factor in your immune system.

There is no credible evidence that points to vitamin C or other supplements preventing the flu and other illness, but taking the right supplements for you can also contribute to overall healthy habits.

If you happen to contract the flu, what symptoms should you look for and how can you begin the healing process?

The most common symptoms of the flu are basic cold symptoms, including a runny nose and sore throat. However, a fever, aches and pain are telltale signs of the flu that do not occur with a common cold. Many people think that the flu is a kind of stomach bug, but in fact, most people do not exhibit any stomach symptoms when they have the flu.

If you do catch the flu, visit your doctor as quickly as possible and begin taking antiviral medication. These do not always work, but can be helpful if taken within the first 48 hours of noticing symptoms. You should also drink plenty of fluids, take Tylenol or another form of ibuprofen and get as much rest as possible.  

You can inquire about receiving a flu shot at your personal physician’s office or at your local pharmacy. For more information about Cooper Clinic, visit the Cooper Clinic website or call 972.560.2667. 

Article provided by Cooper Aerobics Marketing and Communications.