Flu Resource Center
Note: Flu-related visitation restrictions ended Saturday, February 14.
Flu Season 2014-2015: Protect Yourself & Your Family
Every year, five to 20 percent of all U.S. residents get sick with flu (source: www.flu.gov). While the severity, exact timing and length of flu season vary annually, the strategies to help prevent flu do not. Of utmost importance is receiving the flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available in your area. You should receive a new flu shot every year because the protection does wear off over time.
Make an Appointment Today to Receive Your Flu Vaccine
With the health and well-being of your entire family always in mind, WakeMed Physician Practices is offering the quadrivalent version of the 2014-2015 flu vaccine. This version helps protect against four different flu viruses. Please schedule an appointment to receive a flu vaccine today by calling one of our primary care practices or by scheduling an appointment online using your WakeMed MyChart account. Learn more about the flu vaccine from WakeMed Physician Practices.
Important Facts to Know about the Flu in 2014-2015
Health care providers are seeing a predominance of the influenza A strain type H3N2 so far this year. The H3N2 strain has historically been tied to higher overall and age-specific hospitalization rates and more mortality especially among older people, very young children, and persons with certain chronic medical conditions compared with seasons during which influenza A strain type H1N1 or influenza B viruses have predominated.
Additionally, 52 percent of the influenza A H3N2 viruses collected and analyzed in the United States from October 1 through November 22, 2014, were antigenically different from the H3N2 vaccine that was included in this year's flu vaccine, meaning that the virus has mutated or changed since being included in the vaccine. In past seasons during which this occurred, decreased vaccine effectiveness was observed. However, it is still critically important to receive your flu vaccine. The flu vaccine still provides protection against other strains of flu, such as H1N1 and Influenza B, and it also essentially "teaches" your body how to make the antibodies needed to fight the flu, which is paramount. Therefore, the flu vaccine can lessen the severity of symptoms. Some protection is always better than none! See the flu shot myths video below.
Many fighting the flu are turning to prescription Tamiflu for relief. However, doctors warn that Tamiflu may not be appropriate for every patient who is sick with the flu.
"Somebody who has cardiovascular disease or pulmonary disease, emphysema, asthma, those are patients you want to treat with Tamiflu because you're hoping that Tamiflu can prevent that really serious case of the flu," commented Dr. Michael Soboeiro, a physician with WakeMed Physician Practices - Garner Primary Care, during an interview with WTVD/ABC 11 News. View the full news story here.
How Else Can I Help Prevent the Spread of Flu?
In addition to receiving the flu vaccine, there are other critical measures that can be taken to help prevent the spread of flu. These include:
- Diligent hand washing
- Covering your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing
- Avoiding contact with sick people
- Staying home when you are sick
- Keeping your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth
- Practicing good health habits: Cleaning and disinfecting touched surfaces at work and home, getting plenty of sleep, drinking a lot of fluids and eating a nutritious diet
- Taking antiviral medication if prescribed by a physician
Read more about flu prevention:
People Who are at Higher Risk for Developing Flu Complications
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are certain groups that are at a higher risk for developing severe complications if infected with flu. These complications could lead to hospitalizaton or even death. Receiving the flu shot is vitally important for these groups as well as following the prevention methods listed above:
- Children younger than 5 years of age, and especially children younger
than age 2
- According to the CDC, 20,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized from flu complications, such as pneumonia, each year.
- Adults 65 years and older
- Pregnant women and women who gave birth two weeks ago or less
- American Indians or Alaskan natives
- People with pre-existing health conditions such as asthma, neurological/neurodevelopmental conditions, lung disease, heart disease, blood disorders, endocrine disorders, kidney disorders, liver disorders, metabolic disorders, weakened immune system due to disease or medication, obesity
Learn more about these high-risk groups from the CDC.
Identification & Next Steps
Most of the time, the best place to start if you have the flu is with primary care. Find a primary care doctor near you.