ANSWERS PROVIDED BY THE EXPERTS AT FIRSTHEALTH
Flu season in Moore County begins in October and can last until March or even later. Last year alone, more than 900,000 people were hospitalized and more than 80,000 people died from the flu across the country. Vaccination, according to the Centers for Disease Control, is the best way to prevent it.
How do flu vaccines work?
Here’s some science for you: flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection. Recent studies from the CDC show that the flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu illness between 40 and 60 percent. The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season.
So, is it true that people get the flu from getting a flu shot?
While many think they will actually contract flu from the vaccine, it is simply not true. The vaccine will activate the immune system to some degree and some people will feel mild aches, but it is a physiological impossibility to contract the flu from a flu shot. It is possible to coincidentally contract the flu before your body has had enough time to build up the full immunity after the vaccine, which is why it’s important to get your vaccination early before the flu is widespread. Flu is a respiratory disease caused by the influenza virus, and affects the entire body. Symptoms can be mild to severe and include sore throat, runny nose, cough, fever, muscle or body aches, headache and fatigue.
But do I need a flu shot? I’m pretty healthy.
Everyone 6 months and older should be vaccinated — but especially those with chronic disease, pregnant women and women who have given birth within two weeks, children younger than 5 years (especially those younger than 2 years), adults 50 and older, and people with weakened immune systems due to disease or medication. If you suffer from chronic disease, you may experience the flu in a more severe way and experience extra symptoms. The vaccination can typically help to prevent those symptoms. Also, the influenza vaccine is highly recommended for those who travel on a regular basis.
It’s already November. Am I doomed?
Well, maybe. But it’s better to get it now than not at all. Why? Because your body needs time to build up your immune response after the shot.
So what else can I do to prevent the flu?
- Avoid contact with people who have flu-like symptoms. Don’t shake their hands, share utensils, etc. It’s a great excuse to not touch people, because who wants to do that anyway?
- Wash your hands. Like always.
- Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, you heathen.
- If you are sick, stay home! Nobody needs your germs. ·
- Avoid touching your face – eyes, nose and mouth – especially if you feel sick.
Get your flu shot today at FirstHealth Convenient Care, where you’ll also find treatment for all your urgent but non-life-threatening illnesses and family medical care needs. FirstHealth Convenient Care has locations in Pinehurst, Whispering Pines, Hamlet, Raeford, and two locations in Sanford. To find one nearest to you, visit www.firsthealth.org/directory or call (800) 213-3284.