Medical Moment: Flu Shot, Yes Or No?

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Dr. Sharon Grundy, Medical Director of Primary Care, Board Certified in Internal Medicine

Dr. Sharon Grundy, Medical Director of Primary Care, Board Certified in Internal Medicine

Dr. Sharon Grundy addresses this week’s question: “Should you get a flu shot?”

Influenza, or “the flu” is a respiratory virus that typically affects North America as early as October and lasts through May. The flu can cause mild to severe respiratory illness. Severe cases of influenza lead to hospitalization and death.

The elderly, the young and people who are immunocompromised, or have  health conditions like asthma; COPD; cancer; and heart disease are at especially high risk for complications of Influenza.

The best way to prevent the flu is by getting vaccinated each year.

The flu virus is constantly changing therefore each year the vaccine is designed to correlate with the dominant influenza strain predicted by the CDC, however, it is not unusual for a new strain to appear.

The peak of influenza season is December through February. The CDC recommends an annual flu vaccination for everyone over six months of age. The CDC also recommends that people get vaccinated as soon as the vaccine is released, preferably before October.

There are variations to this year’s flu vaccination. The main vaccination is a trivalent vaccine, which covers the top three strains predicted for the 2014-2015 flu season (two influenza A strains: N1H1 and H3N2 along with an Influenza B strain). The other vaccine option is a quadrivalent vaccine, which protects against four viruses, the same three as the trivalent, but with an additional Influenza B strain included.

The CDC recommends either the trivalent or quadrivalent vaccines for all ages six months and older. The only change in CDC recommendation this year is a preference for healthy children 2-8 years of age to obtain a quadrivalent nasal spray vaccination. There is data to suggest the nasal spray may work better in this age group. Do note, there are some children in this age group who should not have the nasal spray (children taking aspirin therapy, children with a weakened immune system, children with egg allergies and children with asthma who’ve had a recent exacerbation).

Telluride Medical Center will be offering the trivalent vaccination for all age groups six months and up. San Miguel Department of Health (County Nursing) will offer the trivalent, quadrivalent and the nasal spray.

Call to set up an appointment for your flu shot today!

Here are some other ways to protect you and your family: The influenza virus is believed to spread by respiratory droplets from an infected person created when they cough, sneeze or speak. These droplets can spread up to six feet away. Most healthy adults infect other people one day before symptoms develop and 5-7 days after becoming sick. That means we can spread the virus even before we know we are sick.

CDC recommends six good health habits that can help stop the spread:

1.     Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

2.     If possible, stay home from work, school and errands when you are sick.

3.     Cover your mouth or nose when coughing or sneezing.

4.     Wash your hands frequently.

5.     Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

6.     Practice other good health habits. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious foods.

Editor’s note:
The Telluride Medical Center is the only 24-hour emergency facility within 65 miles. As a mountain town in a challenging, remote environment, a thriving medical center is vital to our community’s health.
This Medical Moment was sponsored in part by Telluride Properties and through the generosity of an anonymous local supporter committed to a healthy Telluride and the future regional medical center.


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