Immunize to avoid the flu

As flu season begins to get underway, the public is encouraged to be immunized.

“We’re just starting to see it,” Auglaize County Health Department Nursing Supervisor Cindy Jones said this week of influenza cases locally. “Our concern is once people do their Thanksgiving sharing they will be passing more than the turkey.”

With the flu vaccine taking approximately two weeks to become effective, Jones said they are encouraging the public to come in as soon as possible to get one.

While the county’s flu season typically peaks in February or March, a couple of years ago it did spike in November, so Jones said it’s best to get the protection early. They still will be encouraging those who haven’t gotten it yet into the new year, to do so.

The length the vaccine lasts varies from person to person, said Jones who said it can be impacted by a person’s overall health as well as annual changes to the formulation of the vaccine.

This year’s vaccine is the same formulation as last years, which Jones said is unusual but a change in the illness from one year to the next must not have been expected.

“Some people feel they are healthy or won’t get that sick if they do get the flu, so they don’t get the vaccine,” Jones said. “But even if it won’t impact them greatly, they may still pass it on to someone who may not do as well with it.”

Jones said during influenza season people are talking about protecting oneself but it’s important to protect others, too, some of whom for a variety of reasons cannot be vaccinated.

Flu shot clinics held early in the season in October were poorly attended, Jones said, but they are getting several calls a day now about when and where people can get immunized.

To date, influenza type B has been seen in local urgent care centers and emergency rooms, Jones said.

Coughing is the most recognizable flu symptom, with other symptoms being fever, aches and fatigue.

Despite popular misconceptions, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are not seasonal flu related.

Jones said if a person who thinks he has the flu is relatively healthy and doesn’t have a high fever and can continue to eat and drink, they may be fine without seeing a physician and the treatment of antiviral medications, however those with respiratory problems or diabetes need to seek help immediately as they won’t fare as well.

She said the antivirals can cut down the length of the illness as well as lessen serious side effects and help avoid hospitalization.