Morano: Protect your family from influenza
October 29, 2012
Because so many Summit County residents work in the hospitality industry, we are lucky to meet interesting people from all over the world. Unfortunately, this often leaves our community more vulnerable to illness than others as germs piggyback along with town guests. And even in our outdoor-oriented lifestyle, the cold weather leads us to spend more time indoors with others who might harbor contagions. Getting the entire family inoculated against influenza is a sensible thing to do to prevent illness, especially the most vulnerable members (children, people who care for children, seniors, healthcare workers and others). As exhausted parents know, there is nothing worse than watching family members all become sick by the flu, one-by-one, like a set of bad dominoes.
Each year, the flu vaccine is formulated from the knowledge gained from last year’s flu cycle as it mutated into novel forms around the world plus projections about what’s possible for the new season. It is comprised of antibodies of three different kinds of de-activated influenza so there is almost no chance of getting the flu from the vaccine. Throughout flu season, the virus can mutate into forms not covered by this year’s vaccine, but getting immunized still helps by boosting your immune system overall and creating what’s known as “herd immunity,” meaning that those inoculated serve to protect those who are not.
Flu season generally peaks in January and February though it begins as early as October and can last through May. While it’s never too late to get inoculated, we recommend getting it done as soon as possible since it takes about two weeks post-vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body. Flu shots are widely available through ever-growing resources including doctor’s offices and pharmacies.
The flu mist is a nasal flu vaccine for kids and adults ages 2 – 49 years old. It is administered with one spray in each nostril and is formulated with live but weakened flu virus comprised of the three strains recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). The flu mist works by producing antibodies in the nose, where the flu usually starts. It is free of preservatives, including thimerosal and mercury.
The flu shot is administered via needle usually into your arm. It also helps to protect against this season’s influenza, is cultivated in eggs and is formulated with killed flu cells. Those with egg allergies should consult their healthcare provider to see if they are sufficiently sensitive to determine if this might be a reason for concern.
In addition to getting a flu vaccine, there are other practical ways to avoid winter illness:
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> Frequent hand washing;
> Avoiding close contact with people who are sick; and
> Disinfecting contaminated surfaces, including toys, kitchen counter-tops, phones and other office equipment.
If you are sick, the best gift you can give to your co-workers is to stay home! You can find more information about the flu from the Centers for Disease Control: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2012-2013.htm#expected
The flu mist and flu shot are now available at High Country Healthcare Family Practice offices in Breckenridge, Frisco and Silverthorne.
Dr. Adele Morano is a Family Practice physician who has been seeing patients at High Country Healthcare Frisco for over 10 years. http://www.highcountryhealth.com