Healthcare updates, Nov 5: What to do with the flu

November 5, 2010 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

The flu, the flu. What are we to do? Here are the latest updates on the flu.

Podcast: Influenza Round Table: Don’t Get, Don’t Spread
Check out this CDC podcast where Dr. Joe Bresee describes how to keep from getting the seasonal flu and spreading it to others. Some of Dr. Bresee’s tips:

First, if you’re sick, stay home from work or school to avoid being around as many people as possible. Second, we recommend that you cover your mouth to avoid spreading the germs.”

Vaccine Safety Monitoring Ensures Continued Safety,
The flu season is here and so is the new flu vaccine. But scepticism about the flu shots remains despite (or because of?) the last year’s swine flu pandemic. The FDA and the CDC are trying to alleviated people’s concerns about the shots through vaccine safety monitoring programs. The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) and Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) help in prompt reporting of adverse events related to the vaccines. Results from VAES and VSD from data of the 2009-10 influenza season showed:

More than 90% of the reports after 2009 H1N1 flu vaccination were non-serious (e.g. events that did not involve health consequences or hospitalization, such as a low-grade fever or muscle aches) and the serious reports were similar to reporting patterns for influenza vaccinations during previous influenza seasons.”

Shot shy?
Okay, so don’t like getting shots? You are not alone and it is not something to be embarrassed about. Dr. Anne Schuchat of the CDC suggests the following alternative:

If you’re worried about shots, there’s a spray that’s fine for people as long as you’re healthy, between the ages of 2 and 49.”

The spray, unfortunately, can’t be used in pregnant women.

Webcast: Pregnant Women and the Upcoming Flu Season
Pregnant during the flu season? The webcast Know What to Do About the Flu explains “the importance of vaccination for pregnant women, including a discussion on vaccine safety and benefits to newborn children.”

A bad case of the flu
Coughs, aches, chills, fatigue, fever, and even vomiting and diarrhea are some of the common symptoms of influenza. Most of us recover from the flu. But bad cases of flu have been reported. According to Dr. Jose Bresee of the CDC:

“People with the following symptoms should call for emergency medical help immediately: signs of breathing or heart problems like chest pain, shortness of breath, bluish or purplish lips; signs of dehydration, like yellowish or leathery skin, decreased urination, or confusion. Sometimes children will have no tears when they cry.”

Flu updates, October 15

October 15, 2010 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

The swine flu pandemic is officially over but the seasonal flu is just starting as we face the coming of the winter months. We will be bringing you regular updates about seasonal influenza.

Here are some seasonal flu updates for you this week.

Kmart Pharmacy kicks off flu prevention program
If you are into seasonal flu vaccine, then you might want to check Kmart Pharmacy’s more than 900 walk-in flu clinics. The clinics will be open through Nov. 15 to sell seasonal flu shots (free Medicare Part B members) that will be administered by a trained practitioner. According to a Kmart statement:

Following a 2009 flu season that saw significant outbreaks, including the H1N1 virus, Kmart Pharmacy is encouraging customers to get their vaccinations early in the season, especially since there is an incubation period before becoming fully effective. The Kmart Pharmacy walk-in flu clinics are family friendly, have knowledgeable on-site pharmacists that can answer flu- and health-related questions, and carry a range of supplies to help customers stay healthy during the winter season.”

Take note that this is not an endorsement!

Q and A: Vaccine Selection for the 2010-2011 Influenza Season

So what’s in that flu shot anyway? Well, the cocktail varies from year to year just as the flu virus strains change from flu season to flu season.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains how flu vaccines selection is done. “The seasonal flu vaccine is a trivalent vaccine (a three component vaccine) with each component selected to protect against one of the three main groups of influenza viruses circulating in humans.” The components are selected based on the circulating strains of the previous flu season in both northern and southern hemisphere. The selected viral strains are weakened or killed and incorporated into the new vaccine. Here are the 3 strains included in the Northern Hemisphere’s 2010–2011 seasonal influenza vaccine:

an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)–like virus;

an A/Perth/16/2009 (H3N2)–like virus;

and a B/Brisbane/60/2008–like virus

Maternal influenza vaccination may be associated with flu protection in infants
A flu shot for mommy during pregnancy seems to extend protection to the unborn baby that tracks through even 6 months after delivery, according to a recent study. This is good news since babies under 6 months are not eligible for the flu shot. The authors wrote:

Influenza virus infection in infants is generally more frequent among those aged 6 to 12 months than in the first six months of life, potentially owing to the protection conferred by maternal influenza antibodies acquired transplacentally or through breastfeeding. However, during severe influenza seasons, morbidity and mortality rates among infants younger than 6 months have been reported to exceed those of older infants.”

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.