Experts: Get flu shots now
Although the 2013-2014 flu season isn’t expected to peak until this winter, medical professionals are urging residents to get their flu vaccines now.
The official influenza season begins Nov. 10 and continues through the end of March, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Central Carolina Hospital Infection Preventionist Cindy Sharpe said everyone should consider getting a flu shot.
“You can get it through your physician provider and urgent care clinics,” she said. “Pharmacies and drug stores are offering them through their pharmacy program.”
Central Carolina Hospital requires all of its employees to get a vaccine or wear a mask, and it will hold a drill to see how many of its employees can be vaccinated within a 48-hour period, Sharpe said.
“We want to see what our percentage is in case of an emergency like bioterrorism,” she said.
The CDC urges people to get a flu vaccine as soon as possible because it takes anywhere from two to four weeks to enter the immune system, according to Dr. Ajay Ajmani, a Sanford physician.
“We have started vaccinating people who need them,” he said.
It is especially important for the elderly, children, people with pulmonary disorders and those who often interact with these populations to receive the flu vaccine, Ajmani said.
There have been no active cases of the flu at Ajmani’s office this year, he said.
Two flu cases have been reported so far at the Sanford Medical Group, according to Nurse Manager Wendy Weston. The office offers a variety of flu vaccines, including the quadrivalent vaccine, which protects against two different Type A and Type B strains, she said.
“It’s a vaccine that protects you from four different strains,” Weston said. “They develop a vaccine based on previous years, and that last strain of B [became more prevalent] at the end of the flu season last year.”
People should make sure to wash their hands, cover their mouths if they sneeze, eat healthy foods and drink fluids to stay healthy, she said.
“If people have any questions, they can contact their primary care physician,” Weston said.
The CDC estimates that 200,000 people are hospitalized each year with the flu. More information is available online at www.cdc.gov/flu.
• Fever or feeling feverish/chill
• Sore throat
• Runny or stuffy nose
• Muscle or body aches
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention