What You Need to Know About The Flu Season
Hide Video Transcript
Dr. Alicia FryThis year’s early and busy flu season may have you wondering how to protect yourself and your loved ones from the flu, as well as what to do if you get sick with the flu.
Dr. Alicia Fry (cont.)Hi, I’m Dr. Alicia Fry from the CDC’s Influenza Division, and I’ll be answering common questions WebMD readers have been asking about flu this season.
Dr. Alicia FryI’ve heard there is a shortage of flu vaccine. Is that true?
Dr. Alicia Fry (cont.)At this time, some vaccine providers may have run out of flu vaccine, while others may still have vaccine left. You may need to check with more than one provider, including pharmacies and health departments, for example, to find vaccine.
Dr. Alicia Fry (cont.)The HealthMap Vaccine Finder may be helpful in locating flu vaccine within your community. Enter your zip code into the HealthMap Vaccine Finder online.
Dr. Alicia FryIt seems so late in the season to be getting a flu vaccine. Is it still effective even now?
Dr. Alicia Fry (cont.)CDC always recommends that vaccination continue as long as flu viruses are spreading. While flu is unpredictable, flu activity can continue as late as May.
Dr. Alicia Fry (cont.)For that reason, with rare exception, everyone 6 months and older should get vaccinated if they have not already this season.
Dr. Alicia Fry (cont.)Vaccination is especially important for people who are at high risk of flu complications, including people 65 and older, pregnant women, young children and people with chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes, and heart disease.
Dr. Alicia FryIf you get the flu, how long does it last, and how long are you contagious?
Dr. Alicia Fry (cont.)Most people who get flu will recover in a few days to less than two weeks. Symptoms start 1 to 4 days after the virus enters the body.
Dr. Alicia Fry (cont.)Most healthy adults may be able to infect others from 1 day before symptoms start to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick, while children can shed virus for longer.
Dr. Alicia Fry (cont.)That means that you may be able to spread the flu before you even know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.
Dr. Alicia Fry (cont.)CDC recommends that people stay home during illness for at least 24 hours after fever is gone, unless medical care is needed. Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.
Dr. Alicia FryWhen do parents need to seek help for kids with flu?
Dr. Alicia Fry (cont.)Most otherwise healthy people who get the flu do not need medical care, but there are some people who can get very sick from flu and that includes young children.
Dr. Alicia Fry (cont.)Children younger than 5, but especially younger than 2, are at greater risk of serious flu-related complications, like pneumonia.
Dr. Alicia Fry (cont.)If your child is younger than 5 and gets sick with flu symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat), contact his medical provider because your child may benefit from treatment with flu antiviral drugs.
Dr. Alicia Fry (cont.)This same guidance applies to children of any age who have high risk conditions like neurological disorders, asthma, diabetes, heart disease or a weakened immune system for any reason.
Dr. Alicia Fry (cont.)These kids also are at high risk of serious complications from flu and should get medical care as soon as possible after symptoms start.
Dr. Alicia FryWho can take Tamiflu, and how do you know if you should get it?
Dr. Alicia Fry (cont.)Tamiflu is approved for the treatment of flu in patients as young as two weeks old, but not everyone who has flu symptoms needs antiviral drugs.
Dr. Alicia Fry (cont.)CDC recommends that high risk patients – seniors, children, people with certain health conditions and pregnant women -- get treated with flu antiviral drugs as soon as possible, but a doctor needs to write a prescription for treatment.
Dr. Alicia Fry (cont.)Antiviral drugs can reduce the severity of illness and the length of time you are sick and can prevent serious flu-related complications from developing.
Dr. Alicia Fry (cont.)These drugs work better for treatment the sooner they are started but there are studies that show that treatment even after 48 house can be helpful.
Dr. Alicia Fry (cont.)Remember, antivirals are not a substitute for vaccination but rather should be used as a second line of defense against flu.
Dr. Alicia FryWho is being hardest hit this flu season?
Dr. Alicia Fry (cont.)As often happens with flu, people 65 years of age and older tend to be harder hit in terms of flu-related hospitalizations and deaths. In general, 90% of flu-related deaths and about 60% of flu-related hospitalization happen in people 65 and older.
Dr. Alicia Fry (cont.)We are seeing very similar patterns among seniors this season. That said, flu affects all age groups, including children. And every year we see flu-related hospitalizations and deaths in children and in other high risk groups.
Dr. Alicia Fry (cont.)We all need to do everything we can to prevent the spread of flu.
Dr. Alicia FryHopefully this video has answered some of your questions about flu. Remember that flu vaccination is the best way to protect against flu and that CDC recommends vaccination each year against flu.
Dr. Alicia Fry (cont.)The more people who get vaccinated, the better off we all are. In addition to vaccination, antiviral drugs for treatment are our second line of defense against flu.
Dr. Alicia Fry (cont.)Last, everyday preventative actions can help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses like flu. Stay away from people who are sick. If you are sick, stay away from others, cover your coughs and sneezes.
Dr. Alicia Fry (cont.)Let’s all do our part to prevent the flu and protect ourselves, our families, and our communities!