It’s almost here… Before we realize what has happened summer will be fading into a memory. Children will be returning to school, Sunday afternoons will be filled with football, and the leaves will start to turn.
At Sound Family Medicine, the return of fall also comes for us the reminder that flu season is just around the corner. We want you, your family, and our community to be able to enjoy all the comforts of fall, winter, and the subsequent holidays without being taken out by the flu – which is why as a team we want to take this opportunity to remind everyone of a few important things about the flu vaccine:
- Influenza kills people every year. Influenza is a serious respiratory illness. It can frequently lead to a pneumonia. It is estimated that approximately 48,000 people died from the flu and related complications in 2003-2004. More than 200,000 people are estimated by the CDC to be hospitalized annually.
- The influenza vaccine does not cause the flu. At Sound Family Medicine we use the intramuscular vaccine that does not contain a live virus – which means it is biologically impossible to cause the flu. When your body recognizes the “invasion” it will build an army of memory cells that will be ready should you become exposed to the flu. Sometimes this process can cause you to feel a little run down after getting the flu vaccine.
- Getting the flu vaccine does not mean you won’t get sick this season. Not all illnesses that feel miserable are the flu. The flu is a very specific respiratory illness characterized by a rapid onset of fever, chills, body aches, sore throat, vomiting, and diarrhea. There are a host of other viruses though that can mimic flu symptoms. It would be impossible to vaccinate against every strain of every virus out there – our encouragement to vaccinate against the flu isn’t because we are promising you a holiday season free of the sniffles. Additionally, it is possible to still catch the flu despite vaccination – but when vaccinated the flu is often less severe and lasts a shorter duration than in those who are unvaccinated. It also takes about 2 weeks for the flu vaccine to start offering full protection – during this time it is still possible to get the flu.
- Getting vaccinated helps protect our community. Not everyone can receive the flu vaccine. There are some people who are unable to be vaccinated against the flu due to a number of reasons. Getting vaccinated means that you are less likely to get the flu – which also means you are less likely to spread the flu. The groups for whom the flu vaccine is not recommended receive their protection from the flu by preventing exposure… and you will have done your part by choosing to vaccinate.
There are a host of other reasons why at Sound Family Medicine we feel so strongly about vaccinating against the flu virus – please begin talking with your healthcare provider now about your questions regarding whether or not vaccination is right for you.
Here are some links to reliable flu vaccine information that you may find helpful in making the decision to vaccinate:
Additionally, you can now access your Washington state immunization records for your family online. Registration is quick and easy. You can learn more at www.wa.myir.net
In good health,
Tracie Jefferson, PA