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The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs. Dr. Linda Johnson, Senior Medical Director at Southwest Medical Associates has important information on protecting your health and the health of those you care about.
The flu is a serious illness, it affects vulnerable populations, especially babies, pregnant women, the very elderly, people with chronic disease, and it is more than just your average cold. It can turn into a very serious illness leading to hospitalization and causes thousands of deaths in our country every year.
Now, in most cases, people with the flu tend to have a mild case; however, life-threatening complications including pneumonia can follow if not treated. And that’s not meant to scare you – it’s simply a scientific fact: about 100 deaths from influenza among children are reported each year to CDC.
CDC estimates that annually, since 2010, influenza resulted in:
Between 9.2 million and 35.6 million illnesses
Between 140,000 and 710,000 hospitalizations
Between 12,000 and 56,000 deaths
The best way to protect yourself is to get that annual flu shot. Flu vaccines not only protect you, they protect the vulnerable - babies and young children, older people and people with certain chronic health conditions.
Some may say they get sick from the vaccine. Well, vaccines are made with an inactivated virus, or without the virus – either way, they are NOT infected by the flu. However, a small percentage, about 30 percent - will experience cold-like symptoms. Their body is mounting an immune response. The bottom line is most won’t have that response, and for those who do, one or two days is better than two and a half weeks of the flu.
Hundreds of millions of Americans have safely received flu vaccines over the last half century, and there’s extensive research supporting its safety. The sooner you get vaccinated the more likely you are to be protected against the flu when activity picks up in your neighborhood or workplace. Flu vaccines are offered in many locations, including doctor’s offices, health departments, pharmacies and mobile clinics, as well as by many employers and schools. I would encourage people to check out Southwest Medical’s Convenient Care walk-in centers - no appointment is needed.