All Posts tagged flu shot

Doc Talk: Don’t miss your shot

Ellen MacKinnon, MS, RN, AGCNS-BC, Director of nursing

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.

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Flu is in the news

Erin Prissel, MD

Erin Prissel, MD

By Dr. Erin Prissel

Most people who live in this valley love winter and the multiple outdoor opportunities that are available following an epic snow storm. We wake up every morning, check the weather, and adjust our day if possible. Of course, Mother Nature is not predictable. Just as it has been challenging to predict weather patterns, it has been equally challenging to predict the drift and shift of the influenza virus. This flu season is approaching numbers seen during the 2009 pandemic. At the time this article was written, the proportion of influenza deaths is above the epidemic threshold for week 2 in the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) Mortality Surveillance System. We are all at risk for infection. The greatest risk falls on our children, immunocompromised, and folks over the age 65. As of now, there are a reported 53 pediatric deaths related to influenza.

We have to make choices every day about our health and wellness — from the food we eat to the medications and supplements we take. One thing remains clear and unified — we all want what’s best for our families. Similarly, it is important to know the facts about vaccinations and influenza in order to make informed decisions.

Flu Facts

  • The flu is a contagious virus effecting the respiratory system. It often presents like a respiratory infection but can also present with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • You can spread the virus up to 6 ft away with a good cough or sneeze.
  • Symptoms start 1-4 days after being infected with the virus. You can spread the virus from day 1 prior to showing symptoms up to about 7 days after symptoms develop. That means you can spread the infection even without having symptoms. This is why hand hygiene is so important.
  • Some people can be infected and have no symptoms but they can still spread the virus.
  • Purchases of over-the-counter flu medications generally cost a lot more than getting a flu shot, especially if the immunization is covered by insurance. In addition, the over the counter flu medications only target symptoms. You body must fight the virus.
  • 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 percent protection, and there have been occasions when their effectiveness turned out to be less than 10 percent. This is because the virus changes its surface proteins to survive and persist in our environment.
  • The vaccine is not made of a live virus. You don’t catch influenza from the vaccine. It takes two weeks for the vaccine to stimulate an immune response in your body that is protective against the virus. If you develop a cold or influenza around the time you received the vaccine, you were likely already infected.
  • If you catch the flu but had a flu shot, your illness may be less severe than if you hadn’t received the vaccination because your immune system is ready for it.
  • People of all ages die each year from flu complications but it is especially dangerous for young children and seniors.
  • People miss work, kids miss school, and people are hospitalized due to flu.
  • The illness can make you very sick even if you are otherwise healthy.
  • Hospitalizations and missed work cost quite a bit more than flu shots.
  • Death from influenza is potentially preventable.
  • There is no cure for influenza. If you are infected, your body must fight the illness.
  • Tamilfu is a medication that prevents the virus from replicating in your body and allows your immune system a chance to work faster. It does not cure the virus.
  • Antibiotics do not treat influenza.

Driggs, Victor and Cache Clinics are offering the quadrivalent and high-dose formulation of the vaccine. The quad includes an additional B-strain vaccine. Trivalent shots do not include additional B-strain protection. If this difference concerns you, make sure you ask what type of shot is available. Many non-medical businesses may offer only the trivalent dosage.

High-dosage vaccines as recommended for people over the age of 65 or with 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.

Dr. Erin Prissel specializes in Family Practice medicine. She’s accepting new patients at Driggs Clinic.
To learn more about seasonal influenza: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/flushot.htm

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DocTalk: Flu Facts

Nathan LevangerBy Nathan Levanger, D.O.

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.

To learn more about seasonal influenza visit the CDC website.

This article originally appeared as a DocTalk in the Teton Valley News.

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