The Flu in Oklahoma
What you need to know.
According to the CDC, February marks the height of flu season. Yancy Galutia, D.O., a family medicine physician at Utica Park Clinic in Owasso, says that flu cases start showing up by the end of October and continue through mid-March. With flu season underway, we asked Dr. Galutia to provide some information that we can apply now, and to keep in mind for future flu prevention.
Who should get a flu vaccine?
Everyone 6 months of age and over should get a flu vaccine as soon as they are available each year, generally starting in October.
Is it too late to get a flu vaccine?
If you have not yet had a flu vaccine, it is not too late. However, keep in mind that after you get the shot, it takes some time for your body to prepare its antibody defenses. From the time you get the shot until your body is ready to fight exposure to the flu is about two weeks.
I’ve heard that the nasal vaccine is not recommended this year. Is this true?
The nasal vaccine is not recommended for this flu season as it was determined to not be effective. I recommend getting the shot, not the nasal vaccine.
Can you still get the flu even if you get a flu shot?
Getting the flu vaccine does not guarantee that you will not get sick, but it greatly decreases your chance of dying due to influenza. The CDC estimates that 12,000 to 56,000 people have died due to flu-related complications since 2010.
What are some things, besides getting the vaccine that we can do to prevent getting the flu?
The best prevention is to avoid exposure by washing hands frequently and not sharing food or drink with someone who is ill.
What are the symptoms of the flu?
Typical symptoms of the flu are fever, cough, runny nose, nausea, body aches, and headaches. If you have flu-like symptoms, you should see your doctor right away. Sometimes the doctor can make the diagnosis from an exam or other times the doctor will perform a Rapid Flu test. For the Rapid Flu test, a sample is gathered from the nose via a swab. The test takes about 10 minutes to get a result. A positive test confirms the presence of the influenza virus. If you are diagnosed with flu, your doctor may prescribe an anti-viral medication such as Tamiflu. The Tamiflu medication will help decrease the duration of the illness (decrease how long you are sick), but may not help decrease the symptoms.
Can anything else be done to decrease symptoms?
To help decrease the symptoms of the flu (body aches, headaches, cough, fever, runny nose, etc), I recommend drinking large amounts of clear liquids (such as water, Gatorade, sprite, etc.) and trying to drink at least 2 liters (66+ ounces) each day you are sick. Ibuprofen can help with the body aches and headaches. An anti-histamine such as Benadryl or Claritin can help decrease the mucous production and help slow down the runny nose symptoms. Follow the label directions for dosing.
How can parents protect infants who are too young for a flu vaccine?
If your child is younger than 6 months and is not yet eligible for a flu vaccine, it is extra important that parents and older sibling in the home be vaccinated to decrease the chance of exposing the baby to flu.