The facts about the flu
Fri, Nov 2, 2018
Flu season is back and shouldn’t be taken lightly, a BayCare Clinic doctor says.
The flu is a potentially serious respiratory disease that could lead to hospitalization or death. Millions of people get the flu and thousands die from it annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Last year’s flu season was the deadliest in four decades. An estimated 80,000 Americans died of complications from the flu last year, according to the CDC.
That’s why it’s important to get vaccinated against the flu.
“The flu shot is the best way to protect yourself and people around you from the flu,” says Dr. Laura Vogel-Schwartz, an emergency medicine physician with BayCare Clinic. “The flu virus spreads easily and can be contracted within six feet of an infected person.”
The flu shot is made of inactivated flu viruses. This means the flu virus has been killed and can’t cause the flu. The inactivated viruses cause antibodies to form in the body about two weeks after you get your flu shot.
While you can get the flu shot anytime during flu season, it’s recommended you get the flu shot as soon as possible. The sooner you get your flu shot, the sooner your body can make antibodies and protect itself against the flu.
Everyone six months of age and older should get the flu shot, the CDC says. It’s recommended you get the flu shot every year. The body’s immune response from the flu shot declines over time, so an annual shot is important. The flu virus is also constantly changing, so the formula used in the flu shot may be updated as needed to keep up with the changing virus.
There is still a chance you can get the flu even if you get your flu shot. Your age, your health and the match between the flu virus and the one used to make the vaccine affect the effectiveness of the shot. If the seasonal flu virus and the one in the shot are closely matched, the effectiveness is higher. If they aren’t, the effectiveness is lowered. It’s still important to receive your flu shot because it can still protect many people and prevent serious complications.
“It’s also important to keep good hygiene tips in mind to prevent the flu. Cover your cough, wash your hands frequently, and stay home when you’re sick,” Vogel-Schwartz says.
Dr. Laura Vogel-Schwartz is an emergency medicine physician with BayCare Clinic. She sees patients in Green Bay, Two Rivers, and Oshkosh.
About BayCare Clinic
BayCare Clinic, baycare.net, is the largest physician-owned specialty-care clinic in northeastern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It is based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. BayCare Clinic offers expertise in more than 20 specialties, with more than 100 physicians serving in 16 area communities. BayCare Clinic is a joint partner in Aurora BayCare Medical Center, a 176-bed, full-service hospital. Follow BayCare Clinic on Facebook and Twitter.