DR. MOHLER: Are you ready for flu season?
MOHLER’S MEDICATION MAXIMS
Free Press Health Columnist
FLU SHOT CLINIC
The Mesa County Health Department, 510 29 1/2 Road, room 1060, is holding a clinic for flu and pertussis (whooping cough) vaccines on Monday, Sept. 30, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. If you buy a flu shot, get a TDaP or DTaP vaccine free. For more information, call 970-248-6900.
Walk-ins are also welcome anytime during regular clinic hours, which are Monday and Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and Friday, 8 a.m. to noon.
Last evening, I received an email from a 98-year-old patient of mine who was asking if she should go ahead and get the flu vaccine that will be offered by one of the drug store chains soon. The answer is absolutely, “Yes.”
Where you get the vaccine makes absolutely no difference. All influenza vaccine in the United States is produced by a handful of manufacturers who distribute it to the military, colleges, pharmacies, health departments and doctors offices.
When you get the vaccine is important. Typically, the flu strikes in January or February, but unpredictably may arrive as early as October or as late as April. The concept that your protection from the vaccine will “run out” before the flu season is over has been dispelled and the CDC now recommends getting the vaccine as soon as it is available. It will protect for the entire flu season.
The recommendations for who should get the vaccine are unchanged from last year — everyone who is over 6 months of age should receive the vaccine, including pregnant women. Egg allergy? There is now a vaccine made without eggs. Ask your doctor.
Maybe you don’t take the vaccine because:
“It causes the flu.” — None of the vaccines available now can cause the flu. Current flu vaccines do not cause any more systemic reactions (fever, aching) than placebo (sugar) injections.
“It doesn’t work.” — Like all vaccines, it does not offer 100% protection, but in an average year about two-thirds of those vaccinated are protected. Even when the match between the vaccine and the flu virus is not perfect, the vaccine is helpful in protecting against the illness.
“I never get the flu. I am healthy.” — Healthy adults may not develop classical severe influenza when infected, but even those with minimal or no symptoms may transmit the virus to others. This is one of the major reasons that widespread vaccination is recommended. Refusing vaccination because you believe you are at low risk ignores the potential threat to close contacts, especially those who cannot get vaccinated or those who may not be protected by the vaccine.
Shamefully, last year one-third of all health-care providers did not get the flu vaccine. When you see your physician next, remind him or her to get their flu shot.
Dr. Mohler has practiced family medicine in Grand Junction for 38 years. He has a particular interest in pharmaceutical education. Phil works part-time for both Primary Care Partners and Rocky Mountain Health Plans. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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