flu shot

Flu vaccine is now widely available. Did you get your vaccination?

beach scene Summer is over now and the leaves are starting to fall. I got my flu shot yesterday. How about you?

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beach scene Summer is over now and the leaves are starting to fall. I got my flu shot yesterday. How about you?

Influenza vaccine as your doctor would call it, was somewhat controversial recently as the predominant strain didn't match well to the strains in the flu shot. This can happen. No one can control this. Each year flu strains are chosen on a best science estimate of the future. Scientific wild guess? Maybe for cynics, but a reasonable, rational attempt to prevent problems. I've said many times in The Essential Guide to Prescription Drugs, it's always better to prevent a disease or condition than to have to treat it.

The CDC recommends flu vaccine for everyone more than 6 months old without a specific reason not to get it (contraindication). This even includes pregnant women. There was important data from the 2013 season that showed that for seniors (a study of Medicare claims data for 930,000 high-dose shots for those over 65), the high-dose gave about a 22% lower rate of flu and flu-related hospitalizations. Important outcomes to be sure.

I think most clinicians would suggest quadrivalent vaccine when it's available. You'll remember that there is a nasal spray, regular shot and high-dose shot depending on how old you are. My decision was based on my opinion that the benefits outweigh the risks for me, I have a history of heart disease (and there are data to show that flu shots can actually help prevent heart attacks-especially for those with recent acute coronory syndrome) and I just do not want to get sick. At the very least, the shot will challenge my immune system and at best will protect me 80% of the time or make it so I have a much less sever flu case if I do come down with the flu.

Always better to prevent any disease or condition. Have a family talk about flu vaccine and get it done. Become a powerful person and maximize your chances to avoid being  a flu patient.

Did you get your flu vaccination yet? How about today?

beach scene There you were sitting on the beach. Where does the time go? Summer is over now and the leaves are starting to fall. I got my flu shot yesterday. How about you?

New flu test may help your doctor decide if it's the flu in 15 mnutes

 

older woman Flu season this year has seen a lot of controversy erupt over what the flu vaccine covers, if it actually causes the flu and many wonder if it still helps your immune system even if it doesn't prevent the flu.

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older woman Flu season this year has seen a lot of controversy erupt over what the flu vaccine covers, if it actually causes the flu and many wonder if it still helps your immune system even if it doesn't prevent the flu.

Yes, it covers about 23% (effectiveness) of the flu (viruses that are around). No, it doesn’t cause the flu. Yes, you can still get the shot or the spray and it will challenge your immune system (boost immunity) and it will lessen the severity of the flu symptoms if you get the flu. Benefits in immunity may work in strange ways in some years and the “guess” (based on science) of the 3 or 4 viruses that will cause the flu in a given flu season isn’t always correct. Bottom line is that getting a spray or shot with even the wrong virus still boosts your immune system and offers some coverage.

As in past years, if you or a family member do get the flu, it is important to go to the doctor quickly if you plan to try to get Tamiflu. Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) is best started immediately on flu symptoms. The longer you delay, the less the benefit will be and it must be started within 48 hours. There are great symptom checkers on the CDC web site to help you tell the difference between some breathing (respiratory) infections and the flu (visit them at www.CDC.gov). Your doctor may face the treat or not to treat dilemma. This is important if you have diabetes or a heart condition or cancer as the flu can be devastating. The interesting new development is an easier/more prevalent potential use of a lab test to diagnose the flu.

Enter Alere i. Yes, Alere i. The company received a CLIA waver (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Ammendments) for their test. What this means is that the test and technology is simple enough to be used by personnel in a doctor’s office or free-standing Emergency Department. Their test is very fast (about 15 minutes) and uses the latest desirable technology (nucleic acid based) approach. This is the first CLIA waiver for such a flu (influenza A or B) test and means that you and your family could have the convenience of an accurate quick test in a non-traditional laboratory site. This will also help your doctor make treatment decisions sooner and help you get a handle on the flu or appropriate treatment if it isn’t the flu.   

Technology plus medicines, improved population health and targeted treatments for 2015. I will make mention of this test in the upcoming Essential Guide to Prescription Drugs!

 

This website is not intended as medical advice, and you should consult your doctor before changing or adding any medicines or vitamins to those you may now be taking and about applying any strategies BEFORE you adopt any approach in this report. While diligent care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information provided during the preparation of this edition, no claim is made that all known actions, uses or side effects, strategies for cost containment, targets or cholesterol pathways are included in this report. The accuracy and currentness of information are ever subject to change relative to new guidelines, new information derived from drug research, development and general usage.