This article appeared in News Advocate. Read more here.
Children in the area are back in school rooms, football is on the minds of many and fall comes at us quickly this month.
Apple cider and color tours are ahead – as is the need to get a flu shot.
While COVID-19 has understandably grabbed all the headlines in the past two years, it remains important to protect yourself and loved ones against the flu. The best way to do that is through the vaccine.
The FDA’s committee that decides which flu strains are most likely to be prevalent and circulating in the northern hemisphere met in March to select the specific viruses to target this year.
CDC reported that flu activity in the 2021-22 season was mild and occurred in two waves, with the second wave having a higher percentage of positive clinical lab test results and a higher number of hospitalizations than the first.
But a good year last year by no means indicates an easy year this year. With more normal activities and a loosening of pandemic precautions it only makes sense that we could see a more normal flu season and the complications that can create for those vulnerable and unprotected.
Research shows that people with heart disease, cancer, chronic kidney disease, those who have had a stroke, those 65 and older, and 5 years old and younger are all at higher risk for developing complications as a result of the flu.
Shipments of flu vaccines for the 2022-23 flu season have begun arriving in the U.S. and became available for providers and pharmacies last month. This year’s flu shots will target four strains of the virus – two from Type A and two from Type B.
The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older receive a flu shot. The best time to get your vaccination is before the virus or viruses start circulating. September and October are typically the prime time to receive the vaccination in northern Michigan. This allows one’s immune system to ramp up for the virus which can start circulating in November and December. The flu usually peaks in January or February but that can vary from season to season.
Symptoms of the flu typically include respiratory symptoms such as a cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. Other symptoms include a sore throat, fever, headache, fatigue and muscle pain or body aches.
If you think you have the flu the best thing to do is rest, drink plenty of fluids and avoid contact with others. For those with a higher risk of complications – such as those with a weakened immune system or with medical conditions mentioned above – your provider may prescribe some antiviral medication.
Every year, there are some who voice concerns that the flu vaccine gives people the flu. That is not true. For some people, the vaccine may bring on a low-grade fever, headache and muscle aches for a day or so. Everyone typically experiences soreness at the site of the injection.
To obtain a flu shot later this month, or in October, contact your primary care provider, or call a local pharmacy or the health department to set up an appointment.
Let’s all enjoy the fall, and work to ensure we’re ready whenever seasonal flu viruses try to invade our region.
Brian McComb, D.O. is the Munson Healthcare chief medical officer for South Region.