Flu season has begun

Medical professionals recommend vaccine by end of October
By: 
CARY HINES, Assistant editor

File photo
A flu shot is the best defense against contracting the illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Dr. Lavont Cooper at FastMed Urgent Care in Glendale can’t stress enough the importance of getting a flu shot.

“A lot of people are afraid to bring in their kids that are 6 months because they’re feeling that this is a foreign body that’s being put in their child’s body; however, less than 5 years old really needs it,” Cooper said. “And of course, the 65-and-older and high-risk population really need to get in this month because it’s Oct. 1 already.”

Flu season is most active from October to February, but can run even later, Cooper said.

“It’s best to get a flu vaccination this month, because December, and up to February, and sometimes even in May, people get the flu, so it’s really important to do it now,” Cooper said.

FastMed received its stockpile of the vaccine about a month ago, he said. The vaccine isn’t 100 percent effective at preventing the flu, but “about 90 percent of people who don’t get the flu shot end up with symptoms, and about 50 percent who do get the flu shot don’t have the symptoms,” Cooper said, adding the medical community saw an increase in deaths last year of people who did not get the flu shot.

The Centers for Disease Control classified 2017-18 a high severity season, according to www.cdc.gov. While estimates for last season aren’t yet available, the CDC estimates it to be record-breaking in hospitalizations and deaths.

“It’s not possible to predict how severe the upcoming season will be, but we know that the best way to prevent flu and its potentially serious complications is a flu vaccine,” the website states. “It’s best to get vaccinated before flu begins spreading in your community. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for your body to develop protection against flu. This flu season, protect yourself, your family, your friends, and your community. Get a flu vaccine by the end of October.”

The most common side effects from a flu shot are soreness, redness and/or swelling where the shot was given, fever, and/or muscle aches, the CDC website states, adding those side effects are not the flu and are usually mild and short-lived.

Aside from getting the flu vaccine, Cooper said the most important thing people can do to prevent the illness is to wash their hands.

“Second is to cover your mouth when you’re coughing and sneezing,” he said, adding people should always cough or sneeze into a tissue.

“But mostly, it’s disinfecting and keeping your environment clean when you know someone may have the flu,” he said.

Symptoms of the flu include fever, body aches, chills, fatigue, and often, headaches, Cooper said. And unlike the common cold, the onset of flu symptoms is very abrupt.

Anyone who suspects he may have the flu is advised to see a provider immediately so that he may be assessed, and if determined to have the flu, started on a course of antibiotics, such as Tamiflu, Cooper said.

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