It’s not too late for a flu vaccination
FRISCO Until last week, Dr. Christine Ebert-Santos only saw a few scattered cases of influenza in tourists. Now, during the last 10 days, four of her local children patients have tested positive for both strains A and B of flu, and among those children additional family members are home sick.So, as flu continues to strike Summit County, what people need to know is that an antiviral medication is available from their doctor and that they can still get vaccinated for flu, health officials said.Symptoms include cough, congestion, sore throat, high fever and being extremely tired or weak, said Ebert-Santos, who has a private practice in Frisco, Ebert Children’s Clinic.If this sounds like what you’re going through or you think you’ve been exposed, it may be time to contact your doctor to find out about Tamiflu, she said.
“With this medication, I see most of my patients are better within 24 hours,” Ebert-Santos said. However, getting vaccinated to prevent flu is cheaper than having to get the medication after contracting it, she added.Since flu season runs through spring, Deb Crook, director of public health in Summit County said, “In terms of protection, it’s not too late to get a flu shot.” Also, “the best thing to avoid flu is to wash your hands.” People who have flu should stay home from school and work and cover their mouths when coughing and sneezing, she continued.On average each year in the United States, between 5 and 20 percent of the population gets flu, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications and about 36,000 people die from it, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Crook, who receives weekly reports from the state health department about influenza hospitalizations and deaths, said the numbers show there has been low flu activity throughout Colorado.Michelle Wilson, community nursing manager, added that the activity being reported is significantly lower than years ago, but that doesn’t mean it won’t pick up.Also, the health department in Summit County has heard about some flu going around schools, Wilson said.Previously, it was recommended that those at high risk, under age 3 and above age 50, be vaccinated, Ebert-Santos said. Now, health officials recommend that all school-age children be vaccinated.
“That is where it spreads most rapidly,” Ebert-Santos said, adding that this year’s flu seems milder than in past years.It takes about two weeks for the vaccine to offer protection for those 9 years and older and those who’ve had a shot in the past. For younger children who’ve never had the shot, it is administered in two doses and takes six weeks to be effective, Ebert-Santos said.”The flu vaccine is very safe,” she said. “It doesn’t cause influenza.”Lory Pounder can be reached at (970) 668-4628, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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