The Everett Clinic's Dr. Yuan-Po Tu, reports on this year's influenza.
Now is the time for everyone who has not received a flu shot this fall to be vaccinated. The Washington Department of Health has reported the first death due to influenza in a man in his 70s who had chronic health conditions that put him at higher risk for developing flu-related complications.
Influenza vaccine can prevent flu illness and hospitalization.
CDC estimates that influenza vaccination prevented approximately 5.1 million influenza illnesses, 2.5 million influenza-associated medical visits, and 71,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations during the 2015-2016 season, with an overall vaccine effectiveness of 48%.¹
Influenza vaccination was found to reduce deaths in children.
A study in Pediatrics was the first of its kind to show that influenza vaccination is effective in preventing influenza-associated deaths among children.
Influenza vaccination may make illness milder.
While some people who get vaccinated may develop influenza, vaccination may make their illness milder. A 2017 study in Clinical Infectious Diseases (CID) showed that influenza vaccination reduced deaths, intensive care unit (ICU) admissions, ICU length of stay, and overall duration of hospitalization among hospitalized influenza patients.
The best way to prevent the flu is with a flu shot. CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get a seasonal flu vaccine each fall. Vaccination is especially important for infants and people 65 years and older because they are at high risk for complications from flu.
Immunity from vaccination sets in after about two weeks. There are two vaccines designed specifically for people 65 and older. The Everett Clinic offers Fluad, which is designed to help create a stronger immune response to vaccination. In a Canadian observational study of 282 persons aged 65 years and older conducted during the 2011-12 season, Fluad was 63% more effective than regular-dose unadjuvanted flu shots. There are no randomized studies comparing Fluad with Fluzone High-Dose.
Practice good health habits.
Cover coughs, wash hands often and avoiding people who are sick. If you are ill and have a fever (temperature greater than 100.4 degrees F), please stay at home until you are fever free for 24 hours while not taking fever-reducing medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Viral illnesses are the most contagious at the onset of symptoms and while you have a fever. Staying at home minimizes the risk of infecting others.
Seniors and infants should seek medical advice quickly if they develop flu symptoms.
Patients may need medical evaluation or treatment with antiviral drugs. CDC recommends that antiviral drugs be used as early as possible to treat flu in people who are very sick with flu (for example, people who are in the hospital), and people who are sick with flu and have a greater chance of getting serious flu complications, like infants and people 65 and older. Benefit from antiviral treatment is greatest if started within the first 2 days of illness. A full list of high-risk factors is available at “People at High Risk of Developing Flu-Related Complications”.