What You Need to Know About the Flu
Influenza, also known as “the flu”, is a serious disease that causes thousands of deaths each year in the United States, usually in those who have underlying disease such as diabetes, heart failure and asthma and those over 65 and under 2 years of age. Unlike a common cold, flu symptoms can come on suddenly and if untreated, may lead to severe complications (pneumonia). Distinguishing between a common cold and influenza is difficult for non-medical professionals.
In the Weekly Influenza Activity Map Report (Week of Dec 28, 2013), Connecticut fell under the “widespread” category. Though influenza levels are low in much of the nation, some areas like Connecticut experienced much higher activity. The spectrum of influenza severity ranged from mild to severe, with some individuals requiring urgent medical attention.
The CDC Recommends Getting the Flu Vaccination by the End of October
With the vaccine, it is best to get it sooner rather than later. Flu shots are available to everyone 6 months of age and older. However, patients should keep in mind that even with the flu vaccine they are only 60% protected and thus warrant medical attention if they get symptoms that may be due to influenza.
New England Urgent Care is now offering low-cost — and in some cases NO-cost — flu shots in all of our locations. We are open everyday with extended hours and ready to help you and your family combat the flu. New England Urgent Care is also able to provide special vaccines to elderly patients or those with allergies.
CDC Analyzes Flu-Related Deaths in Children
CQ (9/16, Subscription Publication) reports, “Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made a point of saying Thursday that many of the 115 deaths of young people associated with the illness last season could have been prevented if they had been vaccinated for the flu.” Although “this season’s influenza vaccine protects against three influenza viruses: the 2009 influenza A (H1N1) virus; an influenza A (H3N2) virus, and an influenza B virus,” CDC officials continue “to recommend that, because vaccine immunity wanes over time, everyone should get vaccinated this season — even if they did last year.”
WebMD (9/16, DeNoon) reports, “Just under half of the reported child flu deaths — 49% — were in kids with no underlying illness or other risk factor for severe flu.” However, the analysis showed that “46% of kids who died last flu season were under age five,” while “29% were under age two,” suggesting that “being younger than five years old is a risk factor for severe flu.” In addition, “more than four out of five kids who died of flu were not fully vaccinated.” The report also showed that half of the children “who died in a hospital or emergency department never received antiviral flu drugs,” likely because doctors were waiting for flu test results. CDC official Lyn Finelli suggested that “they should start antiviral agents even before they test for flu” in children with severe symptoms.
Please contact our Medical Director, Dr. Michael Gutman, at (844) 884-9911 with your questions or concerns.