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Posts Tagged ‘Flu Virus’

A Short Guide to Everything You Need to Know About the “Flu.” By Our September Student Pharmacist, Chris Santos.

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What is the Influenza virus or “flu”?

The “flu” is a highly contagious virus that infects our respiratory system—nose, throat, and lungs.

A person experiencing an influenza infection may have:

  • fever/chills
  • sore throat
  • muscle aches
  • fatigue
  • cough
  • headache
  • runny or stuffy nose

These symptoms begin one to four days (average two days) after you are exposed to the virus.

How common is the “flu” virus infection?

  • Each year between October and February, the influenza virus infects approximately 5% to 20% of the United States population.

Who has the highest rate of “flu” infection?

  • Infants and young children have the highest rates of an influenza infection. An influenza infection is the leading cause of office and emergency department visits by infants and young children.

Who has the highest risk for complication, hospitalization, and death?

  • Adults aged 65 and older are at the highest risk for complications, hospitalization, and death.

How can I become infected with the “flu” virus?

  • The influenza virus spreads most commonly to those in close contact with an infected person who is sneezing or coughing. Although less common, the virus can also spread when a person touches an infected surface or object and then touches their mouth, eyes, or nose.

How do I prevent a “flu” virus infection?

  • The most important step you can take to prevent a “flu” infection is to get a flu shot. Even if you get the flu shot, you will experience fewer symptoms if you are infected. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends frequent hand washes and staying away from those infected as additional prevention strategies. 

How long am I contagious with the “flu” infection?

  • You can spread the “flu” virus one day before experiencing “flu” like symptoms and five to seven days after becoming sick. Younger children and adults with a weaken immune system can spread the virus for a longer period.

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What should I know about flu vaccine?

  • The flu vaccine exposes your body to a dead virus strain to build your immune response.
  • Each year, scientists change the “flu” virus strain in the vaccine to predict the most prevalent virus.
  • The flu vaccine does not contain a live virus and it cannot cause you to experience symptoms of the flu.
  • It takes two weeks for your body to fully develop protection against the flu virus. You can get the flu within these two weeks, as you haven’t developed full protection—the full protection lasts the entire flu season.
  • The vaccine cannot provide protection against a flu virus not covered by the vaccine. Even though the strain may not exactly match, it can still offer you some protection.
  • Thimerosal, a preservative for the “flu” vaccine, does not cause any harm. Flu vaccines without a thimerosal preservative are available.

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Who should not get the flu vaccine?

  • If you have any severe allergic reactions to any components of the flu vaccine, please discuss this with you doctor or pharmacist.
  • If you ever had Guillain-Barre syndrome, please discuss this with your doctor.
  • If you are not feeling well, your pharmacist may ask you to come back another date when you are feeling better to get the vaccine.

What are some reactions to the flu vaccine?

  • Patients are most likely to experience injection site reaction of pain, redness, swelling, and soreness.
  • Other possible side effects include: hoarseness, cough, fever, aches, headache, itching, or fatigue.
  • To help manage local site reactions, apply cold compresses. You can also take acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen to help.
  • If local site reactions worsen after three days or last longer than seven days, you should see your primary care physician.

These side effects occur immediately after the shot and last about one to two days.

Sources:

https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/flu.html

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/keyfacts.htm

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https://media2.s-nbcnews.com/i/newscms/2017_37/1282102/flu-vaccine-and-misarriages-today-tease-170913_8ef927cd65f9f91b90aca569965992dc.jpg

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The Flu and You, Part 2: What Flu Shots are Available and Which One is Right For Me? By Our September Student Pharmacist, Rich Carter, Who Can Give You Your Flu Shot.

Hello, ladies and gentlemen–I know you have been waiting with baited breath for my next installment of “The Flu and You,” so here we go.

I mentioned last time that we were going to discuss additional facts about the flu vaccine to dispel any fiction floating around and allow us to make a well-informed decision on what to do about the flu shot.

From my last installment, I hope I convinced you that most, if not everyone, should get a flu shot. What I want to talk about this week is the possible flu vaccine options that are available and how to choose the most appropriate option for you.

I will again be using information directly from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website, just as I did last week. If you need more information, feel free to visit that site here.

Without further adieu, here we go.

The flu vaccine is currently available in four main different “formulations” and they are (with recommendations):

  1. Trivalent dose (the regular flu shot)
    1. This formulation has three different strains of the flu virus in it. It is universally agreed upon that this vaccine will give adequate protection to all individuals ages 2 and up.
    2. This is the ‘standard’ by which all the others are being judged, and is, at this time, completely adequate for seasonal flu.
    3. My personal feeling is that until these new flu options (below) are proven to be better than the normal trivalent, I would stick with the regular flu shot.
  2. Quadravalent dose
    1. This formulation has four different flu virus strains in it, which would allow for more coverage against an additional strain of the virus.
    2. There is some thought that the presence of four strains in one combination could be problematic. An ongoing study is trying to show that this flu shot has the same amount of effectiveness as the regular trivalent one.
  3. High-dose
    1. This flu shot covers the same three strains of flu as the regular flu shot.
    2. This shot differs in that it is targeted (or marketed, if you want) towards older individuals (>65 years old). It has a much higher concentration of active ingredients than the standard dosing.
    3. The jury is still out on this formulation. Studies have shown that the high-dose shot causes a higher response from the immune system than the regular dose. The important thing to note is that a higher response from the immune system is great, but does that mean necessarily better protection? The answer, unfortunately, is we don’t know. There is a large study going on right now to determine this, and we will see…probably next year.
  4. Intranasal live, attenuated (weakened)–and, yes, up the nose, but no rubber hose, I promise! This formulation is different from all of the others.
    1. First, this vaccine is not an injection (yes, that’s right–no needles). It is a spray which shoots up into the nostril.
    2. Second, it is a “live attenuated” vaccine. For those unsure of what that means, it is a technically alive, extremely weakened strain which will not provoke a response from your immune system (you will NOT get the flu from using this).
    3. It is only approved for people aged 2 to 49 years.
    4. You can get some mild, short-lasting symptoms, which could include:
      1. Runny nose
      2. Fever over 100 degrees
      3. Sore throat

If I were pressed to make a decision on which flu shot to get, I would just (for now anyway) stick to the regular one. The regular flu shot is proven effective, and, as of now, the others are not proven to be any better. I hope this makes your choice as simple as mine.

As always, if you are unsure of which shot is right for you, feel free to contact us. We will steer you in the right direction. Stay tuned for my last hooray about flu shots next week when we explore my final topic… To… Be… Continued…

The Flu and You, Part 1: Why Should (Almost) Everyone Get a Flu Shot Every Year? By Our September Student Pharmacist, Rich Carter.

Well, that time is now upon us again.

What’s that Rich? Are you talking about Buckeye football season? Or the major league baseball race to the playoffs?

No, I am talking about flu (shot) season! It is now time to start thinking about flu shots. Scratch that–it is now time to come in and get your flu shot or schedule an appointment if that would make your life easier. The flu shots are here–hot off the press!

There is a fair amount of talk out in the community regarding different kinds of shots and what type of shot may or may not be the best for you. We are here to help you with those decisions and make your flu shot experience as seamless and painless (well almost) as possible. Over the next couple of weeks, you and I are going to go on a short journey. We are going to cover some frequently asked questions and try to dispel some myths and misinformation regarding the flu shot. I will try to ‘arm’ you with the most up-to-date and proper information so that you can make informed decisions about your healthcare. As always, if you have any questions regarding any immunizations, don’t hesitate to call and ask us. We are here to help you!

Ok, without further adieu…

Why should I get a flu shot?

I am glad you asked that question! The flu, or Influenza, is a serious disease. The flu can lead to hospitalization and occasionally even death. Sometimes, people who are normally very healthy can get the flu and become very sick. It is estimated that up to 49,000 people suffered from a flu-related death between 1971 and 2007. Besides being potentially deadly, the flu is no picnic!

Flu symptoms can include:

  • Fever/chills
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle aches
  • Fatigue
  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Runny or stuffy nose

Some people may become sicker than others, but, typically, the people (or family members of these individuals) who must be the most careful are:

  • Young children
  • Individuals over 65
  • Pregnant Women
  • People with certain health conditions, such as heart, lung, or kidney disease or a weak immune system

If you are in any of these groups or have a loved one in these groups, then both you and this person should get the flu shot. If you are not in any of these groups or don’t know anyone in these groups, then you may need to get outside, meet people, and stop living in a van down by the river. Seriously, though, you should get the flu shot also, both to protect you and those around you.

I got the flu shot last year, so why do I need to get another one this year? I paid attention in biology class and they said that your immune system is capable of ‘remembering’ viruses so that it can defend against them in the future (sometimes years).

I say to you, first of all, great job for paying attention in biology class, because you are absolutely right, your immune system can remember a virus, sometimes for your entire lifetime. The problem is that the flu is always changing. Most of the time all three (or sometimes four) of the flu strains that the shot covers change every year. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) runs complicated studies to determine which flu strains are the most deadly and which are the most likely for you to encounter. Then, the CDC picks three to create a combination vaccine, which will maximize your protection for the year.

That is all for this week. Look for Part 2 next week as we will explore more of the information, myths, and legends of the flu shot. Additionally, if you want more information, all of the info I have given you and much more is available at www.cdc.gov/flu/.