Even though the holiday season is in full swing, the Centers for Disease Control said it’s not too late to get a flu shot.
The CDC actually established National Influenza Vaccination Week for now through Saturday to promote the shots and to specifically target people who are at the highest risk of complications if they acquire the flu.
“Being protected against the flu virus is very important, especially for people at high risk,” said Delene Musielak, MD, at East Georgia Internal Medicine & Pediatrics. “For the high risk population, being infected with the flu could result in hospitalization or even death. The influenza vaccination remains the first line of defense and an imperative first step to take for protection.”
According to the CDC’s weekly flu report, Georgia is experiencing a moderate activity of Influenza-like Illness as of Nov. 18 for the 2017-18 flu season.
“So far in 2017, East Georgia Regional Medical Center has seen a total of 29 positive flu tests in the hospital for the 2017-2018 influenza season,” says Dawn Cheney, RN, BSN, Infection Control Practitioner at East Georgia Regional Medical Center. “This does not include quick tests that are performed in physician practices.”
According to the CDC, people in the highest risk categories include:
· Children under the age of 5, but especially those under age 2
· Adults over the age of 65
· Pregnant women, and up to 2 weeks postpartum
· Residents of nursing homes and long term care facilities
· People with chronic medical conditions, including but not limited to asthma, diabetes and heart and lung diseases
· Those with weakened immune systems due to medications or medical conditions
· Obese patients – those with a BMI over 40
· Alaskan and American Indian natives also appear to be at higher risk
While the focus on immunization is not necessarily new, there are some new developments and recommendations for the 2017 flu season. First, the CDC reports that available vaccines have been updated to better match circulating viruses. Second, the recommendation to not use the nasal spray vaccine has been renewed this year – only injectable flu shots should be used for all populations.
“Our priority is to prevent the spread of the flu virus in as many people as possible,” Dr. Musielak said. “However, if necessary, our medical staff is prepared to respond quickly to any high risk patients who contract the virus. Have a discussion with your physician to determine the best type of influenza vaccine for you, and don’t delay in getting medical care if you suspect that you or a family member are infected with the flu virus.”
To schedule an appointment with a physician who can test for the influenza virus, visit MyEastGeorgiaDoctors.com.
“Although we have moderate activity at this time, it is important to remember as we get into the holiday season we intermingle with larger groups of people; and for that reason we often see an increase in ILI during and after the holidays,” Cheney said. “It is not too late to get a flu shot to protect yourself and your loved ones from the flu.”