Fall officially begins with the autumnal equinox (this year on September 22), when even in Texas our thoughts turn to pumpkin spice [everything!], harvest festivals, scarecrows, sweaters, and [of course] football. While you may not think about flu season until the weather really starts to feel like fall, the best time to get your annual fall flu shot may be earlier than you think.
Facts and Figures about the Flu:
- Influenza or “flu” symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. Some people also may have vomiting and diarrhea. People may be infected with the flu and have respiratory symptoms without a fever.
- The 2017-’18 flu season was especially brutal for all age groups and it remained widespread geographically for a longer than usual period of time. More than 30,000 people were hospitalized, and millions of people were sick.
- There were high levels of outpatient clinic and ER visits for flu-like symptoms and record numbers of pediatric deaths (180 for the ’17-’18 season).
- The start of flu season is unpredictable. Immunization can – and should – begin as soon as the vaccine is available. Integrity Urgent Care is already prepared and ready to administer the vaccine.
- Immunization is safe for pregnant women, as well as for nursing mothers and infants (6 months and older).
3 Actions to Fight the Flu
Because of the serious nature of the flu, CDC urges three actions to protect yourself from the flu.
- Take time to get a flu shot. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all adults and children older than six months should get an influenza (flu) shot before Halloween (easier to remember than the end of October, right?!). A similar recommendation has been made by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Although still effective if you get it later in the season, it’s best to get immunized before flu season really gets going. Infants younger than six months old are at high risk of serious flu illness but are too young to be immunized. Adults who care for them (and older siblings) should be immunized instead.
- Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs. A few simple things can help spread disease:
- Avoid contact with sick people when possible.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and then throw the tissue away.
- If you become sick with flu-like symptoms, stay at home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone, except to get medical care or other necessities.
- Wash your hands with soap and water whenever possible. If not an option, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs (like toys, counters, doorknobs, phone cases, purses, etc.)
- Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them. If you do get the flu, these drugs may be used to treat the illness and may work to shorten the time you are sick or make the illness milder. They may also help prevent serious complications, especially among high-risk people. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions for taking these medications.
Count on Us.
This flu season, depend on Integrity Urgent Care. Remember, no appointment is ever necessary so come into one of our convenient locations for your flu shot today! It takes about two weeks after vaccination for enough antibodies to develop and protect you from flu. No immunization can ever guarantee 100% success, so if you begin to experience flu-like symptoms see us as soon as possible. Antiviral drugs are most effective if begun within 2 days after the onset of symptoms.
Integrity Urgent Care hopes you have a flu-free season, but we’re here to get you back on your feet as quickly as possible if you become ill. Contact one of our four convenient locations for more information. We’re open daily 8 am – 8 pm and no appointment is ever needed.
For more information and resources:
Bernstein HH, Muno FM. AAP policy emphasizes importance of vaccination after high-severity flu season. AAP News [online] 3 Sep 2018 [accessed 20 Sep 2018]. http://www.aappublications.org/news/2018/09/03/flu090318
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC says “Take 3” actions to fight the flu [online]. Last update 1 Aug 2018 [accessed 20 Sep 2018].
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Frequently asked flu questions 2018-2019 influenza season [online]. Last updated 30 Aug 2018 [accessed 20 Sep 2018]. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2018-2019.htm
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Weekly U.S. influenza surveillance report [online]. 14 Sept 2018 [accessed 20 Sep 2018]. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/index.htm
Ducharme J. The best time to get the flu shot is earlier than you think. TIME Health [online] 4 Sep 2018 [accessed 20 Sep 2018]. https://goo.gl/CvdP3h
Ducharme J. A record-breaking number of kids died during this year’s flu season. TIME Health [online] 8 Jun 2018 [accessed 20 Sep 2018]. http://time.com/5301749/pediatric-deaths-flu-season/