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Guest author Bryan Lowery, MD
A common question I get around this time of year from my patients is whether or not I think they should get flu shots. The short answer is yes. I’ve always encouraged my patients to get the flu shot, especially if they have certain chronic conditions, are older, pregnant or are very young, in accordance with CDC guidelines. I’m always surprised by how many people push back or who feel that the flu vaccine will make them sick or won’t work. It’s been my experience that the patients who receive the flu shot have a healthier flu season over all, and a recent study backs up my experience.
The CDC supported a recent study spanning four flu seasons, to take a look at whether or not the flu vaccine reduced the risk of hospitalizations and admission into the ICU and whether or not it reduced the severity of illness. The study found that the flu vaccination reduced the risk of being admitted into the general ward of the hospital by 32% and the ICU by 82%.
A common push-back I get from my patients is that they or someone they know still got the flu after receiving the vaccination. This study showed that among adults who had the flu shot and still got the flu:
So, yes, you may still get the flu, but it’s very likely that the severity will be decreased if you’ve had the vaccine.
Additionally, here are a few other facts to know. The CDC says the shot:
Many things in addition to the flu vaccine can help reduce your risk of contracting the flu and other illnesses this season. Most importantly, avoid spending time with people who are ill, and if you feel sick, prevent the spread of illness by remaining home for at least 24 hours after your fever subsides, without the use of fever-reducing medications. Practice these tips to maximize protection:
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Even the best prevention can sometimes miss the mark. Symptoms of flu may range from mild to severe and can often mimic those of other colds and viruses. Look out for the most common symptoms: fever or chills, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, body aches, headaches and fatigue. In contrast the gradual onset of cold symptoms, flu symptoms typically appear very abruptly.
Most flu sufferers will feel better after a few days, but sometimes complications can occur. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor with concerns. Seek care immediately for:
Last year’s flu season was deadly and prolonged, and this year’s flu season is already here. Don’t wait to protect yourself and loved ones.
About the author:
Dr. Lowery is a board-certified family physician with nearly 20 years of experience. He considers himself an old-fashioned family doc who utilizes the latest medical treatments to ensure the most compassionate, personal and high quality medical care. You can learn more about him by visiting his website at friscoconciergemedicine.com/. He writes for Combined Insurance in an effort to help educate readers, but his medical opinions and advice are for entertainment purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for visiting your doctor.
1 “Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness in Preventing Influenza-Associated Intensive Care Admissions and Attenuating Severe Disease among Adults in New Zealand 2012-2015”, by Mark G. Thompson, PhD, Nevil Pierse, PhD, Q. Sue Huang, PhD, Namrata Prasad, MPH, Jazmin Duque, MPH, E. Claire Newbern, PhD, Michael G. Baker, MD, Nikki Turner, MD and Colin McArthur MD. DOI: (sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264410X18309976?via%3Dihub ). It appears in Vaccine, (In press, Corrected proof) published by Elsevier.
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