Seasonal Flu Information

  • Influenza is an acute respiratory illness caused by influenza A or B viruses. It occurs in outbreaks and epidemics nearly every year, mainly during the winter season in temperate climates. Influenza virus is remarkable for its high rate of mutation; this viral evolution compromises the ability of the immune system to protect against new viral variants. As a consequence, new vaccines are produced each year to match the vaccine with the new circulating viruses. Annual influenza vaccination is an important public health measure for preventing influenza infection. Several influenza vaccines are licensed for use in the United States, including inactivated influenza vaccines, which are administered intramuscularly or intradermally, and a live-attenuated influenza vaccine, which is administered intranasally. The protection provided by influenza vaccines is based upon induction of virus-neutralizing antibodies, mainly directed against the viral hemagglutinin.
  • In 2010, the United States Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) expanded the recommendation for influenza vaccination to include all individuals six months of age and older. High-risk individuals, their close contacts, and healthcare workers should remain high priority populations in vaccination campaigns. A single dose of an influenza vaccine should be administered to adults annually and offered as soon as the vaccine becomes available, ideally by October in the northern hemisphere and May in the southern hemisphere. Annual immunization is necessary even if the previous year’s vaccine contained one or more of the antigens to be administered, because immunity declines during the year following vaccination.

Fall 2016/Winter 2017 vaccines are available now. Shots will be available on an appointment basis by calling Orcas Family Health Center at 360-376-7778 or by walk-in. We will continue offering flu shots until this seasons’ supply of vaccine is exhausted.

Why a Yearly Flu Shot Can Protect Your Heart

The newest tool for preventing heart attack is a flu shot! Between 10% to 20% of people catch the flu annually, and a bad case can be deadly for individuals with coronary heart disease. Yet only one in three adults with cardiovascular disease gets an annual flu shot.

People with heart disease are not only at higher risk for flu than the general population but also are more likely to have a severe case and to develop complications such as viral or bacterial pneumonia. What’s more, the flu can worsen coronary heart disease and trigger a heart attack.

No one is absolutely sure how the flu increases the risk of a heart attack. One possibility is that the inflammation associated with the flu can trigger the rupture of unstable plaque, leading to the formation of a blood clot that could cause a heart attack.

The strongest evidence for protection from a flu shot in people with heart disease comes from the Flu Vaccination in Acute Coronary Syndromes (FLUVACS) study. In that study, some 300 individuals who had been hospitalized for either a heart attack or a planned angioplasty were randomly assigned to receive a flu vaccine or remain unvaccinated. Over the next year, twice as many of the unvaccinated group (23%) died of heart disease, had a nonfatal heart attack, or developed severe ischemia (insufficient blood supply to the heart tissue), compared with those who were vaccinated (11%).

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends a flu shot with the same enthusiasm as it does the control of cholesterol, blood pressure, and other modifiable risk factors for heart attacks. In a scientific advisory issued by the AHA and the American College of Cardiology heart doctors were asked to do something they may not normally do – give their patients flu shots. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued extensive recommendations pertaining to those individuals who should obtain flu shots.

Two things you can do in addition to getting a flu shot

First: Avoid as much as possible close contact with the flu suffer

Second:One of the things that you didn’t learn in kindergarten and, in all probability, didn’t learn from your Mom either is how to effectively wash your hands! That may sound silly to you but, in truth, the best defense against viruses, including the annual flu virus, and bacteria, even the dreaded super-bugs like Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile (C.diff), is to keep your hands scrupulously clean. This is how you should do it:

Use warm water, not hot water and not cold water because hot water is hard on the hands and cold water will inhibit the sudsing of soap.

Next, you do not have to use expensive antibacterial soaps to try to kill the germs but you do need to work up a substantial lather of soap suds to dislodge the bacteria and suspend them in the suds.

While lathering your hands be sure to soap every millimeter of skin, including the thumbs, between the fingers, the backs of the hands and the undersides of the fingernails. Use a nail brush to be even more effective.

Now rinse your hands thoroughly with warm water to remove every last trace of soap suds (and germs).

Now that you have done such a great job, do not negate you efforts by grabbing the faucet tap (loaded with germs) or a door knob (especially in a public restroom). Instead use a paper towel to shut off the water and to open the door. That will go a long way in preserving the cleanliness of your hands.

Last of all – teach a child how to wash his or her hands!

Source: Johns Hopkins Health Alerts

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