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.
There are people who think influenza is a seasonal hype promoted by medical facilities. Some folks are allergic to the formulations. Others decline vaccination for a variety of reasons. We have to make choices every day about our health and wellness, from the food we eat to the medications and supplements we take, and we all want what’s best for our families.
Here are the basic facts about the flu based on knowledge and outcomes that can be proven to be true by thousands of non-biased scientific studies:
It’s a contagious virus affecting the respiratory system.
People of all ages die each year from the flu and its complications but it’s especially dangerous for young children and seniors.
Similar to the common cold, the flu is contagious and you are contagious before you experience any symptoms.
Similar to the common cold, it can morph into different strains.
Vaccinations don’t always “match” the virus because scientists have to guess which strain(s) will be prevalent in the upcoming year.
Vaccines don’t offer 100% protection, and sometimes their effectiveness turns out to be less than 10%.
If you catch the flu but had a flu shot, your illness may be less severe than if you hadn’t received the vaccination.
Purchases of over-the-counter medications that treat symptoms of the flu generally cost a lot more than getting a flu shot, especially if the immunization is covered by insurance.
People miss work, kids miss school, people spread the virus, and people are hospitalized due to flu. Hospitalizations and missed work cost quite a bit more than flu shots.
Driggs, Victor and Cache Clinic are offering the quadrivalent and high dose formulation. Quadrivalent shots contain the recommended dosage for four of this year’s anticipated viruses as indicated by the current flu strains other parts of the world including Australia and Indonesia. The quad includes an additional B-strain vaccine. Trivalent shots (covering three flu strains) are available at other medical and retail sites. High dosage vaccines as recommended for people over the age of 65 or who have compromised immune systems.
No appointment is necessary to get a flu shot at any of our clinics. Remember that Cache Clinic does not bill insurance, and if you come to Cache specifically for a shot, you won’t be charged an additional exam fee unless you need and ask for an additional exam.