Every autumn, we hear warnings from healthcare organizations and cautionary stories in the media about influenza season. It would be delightful to announce that there won’t be any flu cases this year but we all know that’s not true. In fact, Teton Valley Health has already confirmed 3 positive cases of Influenza Type A with laboratory testing. We’re off to an early start this year so let’s help protect each other by being proactive.
Teton Valley Health supports recommendations provided by the Centers for Disease Control that encourage everyone 6 months of age and older to get vaccinated. This year’s vaccine has been altered to better meet the current strains that are circulating throughout the U.S. and worldwide. Even if the virus “drifts” into different strains, vaccinations still produce antibodies that can repel flu or shorten the recovery time.
There are two general vaccination protections available: trivalent and quadrivalent. Trivalent doses focus on three types of influenza strains. Quadrivalent vaccines are composed to repel four flu lineages. Teton Valley Health offers quadrivalent immunizations in both injectable and nasal mist applications. High dosage shots are recommended for older people and people who are more vulnerable to attacks on their immune systems. Children between 6 months and 8 years who’ve never had a flu shot or have only had one vaccination may need to be given 2 doses spaced at least 4 weeks apart.
Immunizations are proven to give the best protection against the flu. Additional common-sense habits are also very important such as frequent, thorough hand-washing, staying home if you’re sick, and avoiding crowded indoor events. It’s also important to know that flu antiviral drugs can significantly shorten the severity of the infection if taken within 48 hours of symptoms.
Remember, people with the flu are most contagious in the first 3 – 4 days after they become ill. Sometimes, the contagious stage begins one day before symptoms begin, which is really sneaky and unfair. Complications include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, and worsening of chronic medical conditions such as diabetes and asthma. It’s estimated that in the U.S. last year, over 70,000 people died from the effects of influenza.
Most insurances cover the costs of flu shots. If you don’t have coverage, you may be eligible for assistance to get an immunization for yourself and your family. Teton Valley Health offers a Community Assistance Program to help people afford appropriate medical care, and Driggs and Victor Clinics also offer sliding fee scale pricing. Call (208) 354-6331 for more information about financial assistance.