Get Ready for Flu Season!

Mug surrounded by tissues
Image Source: Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash

The 2018-2019 flu season is upon us.  It is important to begin getting your vaccination now.  The flu shot takes about 2 weeks to work and your immunity will last through the spring. Here are two of the biggest flu season questions answered:

I’m healthy, Do I really need the flu vaccine?

Yes.  Influenza is a contagious disease which affects the lungs and can lead to a more serious illness.  The flu vaccine is recommended for anyone 6 months of age or older.  Some individuals are at more risk of complications of the flu and should consider vaccination including pregnant women, older people, and individuals with chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes and heart disease.

When is the right time to get the vaccine, can I get it too early? 

Now is the right time to get the flu vaccine.  Flu activity can begin as early as October and last well into March.  If the influenza virus is circulating, you should still get the flu vaccine.  Flu season can often last into the spring, and the sooner you get vaccinated, the more effective it will be.

Do you have any questions regarding the flu vaccine?

Tria Health provides one-on-one confidential counseling with a pharmacist for any of your medication related questions. If Tria Health is currently a part of your healthcare plan, call the Tria Health Help desk today for any of your questions.

Tria Help Desk: 1.888.799.8742

Stay Healthy This Flu Season!

Doctor with Sign Reading Flu Shot
Image Source: iStock.com/CatLane

The 2017-2018 flu season is upon us.  It is important to begin getting your vaccination now.  The flu shot takes about 2 weeks to work.  Your immunity will last through the spring.

Here are five of the biggest flu season questions answered.

I’m healthy, Do I really need the flu vaccine?

Yes.  Influenza is a contagious disease which affects the lungs and can lead to a more serious illness.  The flu vaccine is recommended for anyone 6 months of age or older.  Some individuals are at more risk of complications of the flu vaccine and should consider vaccination including pregnant women, older people, and individuals with chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes and heart disease.

When is the right time to get the vaccine, can I get it too early? 

Now is the right time to get the flu vaccine.  Flu activity can begin as early as October and last well into March.  If the influenza virus is circulating, you should still get the flu vaccine.  Flu season can often last into the spring, and sooner you get vaccinated, the more effective it will be.

But can I get the flu from the vaccine?

No, you can’t. Flu vaccines  are developed using dead or weakened viruses that allow your body to develop the antibodies needed to fight the infection, but that won’t actually cause the disease. Flu-like symptoms can be related to other viral illnesses and you can potentially contract the flu virus while you are waiting for your immunity to build up from the vaccine.  You cannot catch the flu from the vaccine.

What are the symptoms of the flu?

The flu is a respiratory illness, and it’s usually spread through the air by people coughing and sneezing. The most common symptoms include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, body aches and fatigue.  The flu is generally much more severe than the common cold, but the symptoms can be similar. The flu tends to develop very quickly and can cause much more severe complications like pneumonia or bacterial infections. A test can be done in the first few days of infection that can determine if you have the flu or a cold.

How do I prevent spread of the flu?

The most effective thing you can do to protect yourself from the flu is to get a vaccine if you haven’t already. Other important ways to help prevent the flu include: wash your hands regularly and cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.  If you do develop symptoms, stay home from work or school to avoid spreading the flu to those around you.

Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine No Longer Recommended for 2016-17 Season

The flu shot is recommended every year for EVERYONE 6 months and older. It is up to 75% effective at preventing influenza in those who get the vaccine. Recently a new kind of flu vaccine became available, FluMist, which is the nasal spray version. This type of flu vaccine has been widely used since its creation, especially in children as it is not an intramuscular injection (into the shoulder). Unfortunately, the previous few flu seasons have shown this type of vaccination is less effective than the shots. Because of this information, it is recommended NOT to use FluMist as a means of influenza vaccination this year.

Review the updated influenza vaccination recommendations from the CDC to help keep your family safe this season. Learn how to spot the warning signs of the flu in your children by watching this video.

Fight the Flu

‘Tis The Flu Season
Every year, 10% – 20% of Americans get sick with the flu leading to missed days at work, school and even hospitalization.  Flu seasons are unpredictable. It can begin as early as October and can last as late as May. During this fall season, protect yourself and your family from the flu by following these important tips.

Get your flu shot.
The best way to fight the flu is by getting vaccinated. Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season. It is especially important that seniors, pregnant women, and others with weakened immune systems or certain medical conditions outlined by the CDC get the flu shot.

Wash your hands & disinfect surfaces.
Germs are everywhere! Washing your hands and wiping down frequently touched objects and surfaces. Take time to wash your hands thoroughly by working up a good lather and scrub for at least 20 seconds then rinse with warm water. Alcohol-based sanitizer is a good alternative to hand washing.

Cover coughs & sneezes.
Germs and viruses can easily spread to surfaces and other people through the air. Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow.

Seek medical advice when feeling sick.
There is still a small chance you can catch the flu even if you get vaccinated. Pharmacists can make recommendations on choosing optimal over-the-counter products that can help manage your symptoms. Get adequate rest and hydration.

Talk to your Tria Pharmacist or other health care provider regarding flu related questions. For information about Tria Health, visit www.triahealth.com.

Preventing Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria are capable of resisting the effects of
antibiotics. This can occur for many reasons for example, taking antibiotics when you do not have an infection caused by bacteria or not taking antibiotics as prescribed by your doctor.

Many common infections like the common cold, most sore throats and the flu are actually caused by viruses. Antibiotics are only effective against infections caused by bacteria and cannot kill viruses. Overuse and overprescribing of antibiotics has markedly increased bacterial resistance in recent years. We all normally have bacteria that live on and in our bodies. The more antibiotics we take the more likely these bacteria are to become resistant to antibiotics and potentially cause infection.

Some common signs that you may have an infection caused by bacteria and you should contact your physician include:

  • Fever higher than 100 °F
  • Symptoms that last more than 7-10 days
  • Symptoms that are not relived by over the counter medications

What can you do to prevent antibiotic resistance?

  • If prescribed antibiotics make sure to take the full course of antibiotics and follow the prescription directions
  • Don’t always assume that an antibiotic will be the answer to your cold and flu symptoms

(Written by Tria Health Pharmacy Student Intern Jessica McClain, UMKC School of Pharmacy)