Thursday, October 20, 2011

Want to avoid getting the flu?

     Raise your hand if you’ve had your flu vaccine! There are quite a few hands I don’t see going up.  Luckily, we’re having a flu clinic!  (Details below!)

So, what exactly is the flu? How does it spread?

     Well, the flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death.  The achy, lethargic, nauseous feeling that comes with the flu is no fun. 

     Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly when people with the flu cough, sneeze, or talk. The viruses are contained in droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. (Gross!)  

     Less often, someone might get the flu by touching a surface or object that has the flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, eyes, or nose.

     Okay, so the flu does not sound fun.  If I’m going to take time off of work, I want it to be because I’m doing something fabulous like going to a wedding, not laying on the couch feeling terrible.

How do you avoid getting the flu?

There’s a vaccine for that.

There are two types of flu vaccines:
  • "Flu shots"—inactivated vaccines (containing killed virus) that are given with a needle. This method has been used for decades and is approved for use in people 6 months of age and older.
  • The nasal-spray flu vaccine—a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses that is given as a nasal spray. The viruses in the nasal spray vaccine do not cause the flu. This method is approved for use in healthy people 2 to 49 years of age who are not pregnant.

     It may sound a little odd – you’re protecting yourself from the flu by injecting or spraying strains of the virus into your body? Yeah, you are.  But, the strains of the virus are either killed or weakened to the point that they can’t make you sick.  The killed or weakened viruses serve as a reason for your body to create the antibodies necessary to destroy the live virus if you were to come in contact with it. 

     The flu vaccinations often begin in September, or as soon as the vaccine is available, and continue throughout the flu season, which can last as late as May. This seems like a long period of time, but the timing and duration of flu seasons vary. While flu season can begin as early as October, most of the time seasonal flu activity peaks in January, February, or later.

     Meritus Health is offering a no-appointment-necessary flu shot clinic open to the community on Monday, October 24, at the Home Care Pharmacy in Robinwood (Suite 105) from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm.  Each vaccine is $25. 

Hope to see you there!

By Kayla Murphy

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