The flu once again is upon us. Many will become ill, some will die from it.
As an internist, I have cared for flu patients every single year for over 25 years. I witnessed first-hand the weakness, aches, fever, headache and other symptoms knock so many I care about off their feet, causing them to miss work, school, family events and more. Too often loved ones are then exposed and become ill as well. According to the CDC, during 2017-18, just over a year ago, the flu broke records for deaths and illnesses, killing nearly 80,000 people. That would be a Jumbo 747 jet with 500 passengers going down every day for nearly 6 months!
Who is at highest risk of flu complications?
Pregnant women and those over the age of 65, as well as those with chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma, and other conditions are at the highest risk of more severe flu complications. Our immune systems weaken as we age. In the United States, people over 65 account for 70-85% of flu-related deaths. But keep in mind that over 10,000 adults aged 18-64 died last season in the United States from flu complications, along with nearly 180 children. We are all at risk, so we must take steps to protect ourselves.
How to protect ourselves and our loved ones from the flu.
Annual flu vaccination is recommended for all people ages 6 months and older unless you have a contraindication to influenza vaccine. Even if you had the flu this season, you should still get vaccinated since the vaccine contains 3-4 different influenza strains. Rarely people who get the vaccine may have mild flu-like symptoms, but they will not get the flu from the vaccine. It takes 1-2 weeks to develop immunity after the vaccine, so there are some people who may be exposed to the flu before they have immunity and become ill with the flu, but this did not come from the vaccine.
The flu vaccine is the best way to prevent the flu. Speak to one of our physicians on how to best avoid this all too common illness.
For more information go to www.cdc.gov/flu
Author: Jose R Santana Jr MD MPH FACP
Dr Santana is a Board-Certified Internist with Private Physician Services, PLLC in Sarasota Florida.