Monday, October 9, 2017

Medical Monday: Flu Season is Around the Corner!

This time of year is particularly exciting. The weather is slightly changing here in Hawaii and the holidays are only a few months away. The beginning of October also means flu season is right around the corner. At Island Urgent Care we have the flu vaccine at all four locations. With no appointment necessary you can be in and out in 15 minutes knowing that you are protected from the flu virus. 

It is also recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to get the flu vaccine in October. 

What is Influenza? 
Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to complications including hospitalizations and death. Millions of people get the flu every year, and getting the flu vaccine helps reduce your risk of getting influenza and spreading it to the community.

How does the flu shot work? Influenza vaccines stimulate your body to produce antibodies that help fight against the flu. It usually takes about 2 weeks after vaccination to produce these antibodies. Each year the influenza vaccine targets the viruses that research suggests will be prevalent in the community that season.

Influenza vaccination is recommended for all persons aged 6 months and older. Annual vaccination is recommended as vaccines are updated to keep up with changing viruses. Last year’s vaccination may not protect you from this season’s viruses. In children who have not been vaccinated previously, 2 doses given at least 4 weeks apart are recommended. 

Who should prioritize getting the flu shot? 
These groups are at higher risk for complications including hospitalization and death and should get the influenza vaccine:
  • Keiki aged 6 months to under 5 years, (especially under 2 years old)
  • People 65 years or older
  • People with underlying medical disorders including lung conditions (such as asthma, COPD), heart conditions, liver or kidney disease, neurological conditions (such as seizures, cerebral palsy), blood disorders (such as sickle cell anemia), and other underlying medical conditions (ie diabetes)
  • People with a compromised immune systems (HIV, cancer, or long term steroid use)
  • Pregnant women and up to 2 weeks after delivery (flu shot is recommended during pregnancy and this also helps protect your baby)
  • Residents of long term facilities/care homes
  • Health care workers
  • People younger than 19 years old on long term aspirin
  • Caretakers of keiki (especially of infants younger than 6 months old), elderly, or persons with underlying chronic conditions
  • American Indians and Alaskan Natives
  • Extremely overweight individuals 

Who should NOT get the influenza vaccine?
  • Children younger than 6 months are too young to receive the vaccine
  • Individuals with severe life threatening allergies to influenza vaccine or its ingredients

Can I still get the Flu if I get the shot?
Yes. The ability of the vaccine to protect the individual depends on the individual’s response to the vaccine as well as how closely the vaccine matches the actual influenza viruses circulating that season. However even if not an exact match it may still be helpful due to cross protection as the antibodies may still provide some protection against the illness and may prevent complications. In that case the illness is usually milder than if you did not get the vaccine. 

We have the vaccine available at all four Island Urgent Care Clinics! Come in and get your annual flu shot today. 

CLICK HERE to see where you can get your flu shot today! 


Dr. Gomez MD

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