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October marks the beginning of a new flu season, which is expected to increase in Louisiana and elsewhere.
The Federal Council of Public Health Council remains clear and consistent: get the flu vaccine as soon as possible, especially if you are pregnant or have asthma or some other underlying condition that makes it more likely that you will get a bad case.
Make no mistake: complications from the flu are scary, says dr. Infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee, part of a committee that advises federal health authorities on vaccine practices.
"As we grow older, more of us contract heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, and asthma," says Schaffner. "These diseases predispose us to complications such as influenza-pneumonia, hospitalization or death, and we need to make vaccination a routine part of chronic health management."
The recommendations of the US Federal Government are: "Everybody and every 6 months and older person in the United States should get vaccinated every year." Over-65s and pregnant women should hurry along with patients with medical problems, if this has not already happened, says Schaffner.
Within a typical year, about two thirds of people are older Studies show that 65 people are vaccinated against the flu, compared with 45% of adults overall and 55% to 60% of children. But only about half of pregnant women are vaccinated, and the vaccination rate for people with chronic diseases varies between 30 and 40%.
Take the case of JoJo O'Neal, a 55-year-old radio host and music show host in Orlando, Florida, who was diagnosed with adult asthma in 2004 at the age of 40. For years she got no flu vaccine. Your healthy diet, intense exercise and general fitness would be protective enough.
"I skated for years," says O "Neal." And then, finally, in 2018 – boom! It hit me and it hit me hard. "She was out of work for nearly two weeks and could hardly move. She was extremely ill and had unbearable headaches and pain in her body, she says. "I spent a lot of time just sitting on my couch feeling miserable."
Neal says it takes a lot to "turn it off," but this fight with the flu has certainly done it. Even more annoying is that she passed on the virus to her sister, who suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Fortunately, neither she nor her sister had to be hospitalized, but they were undoubtedly worried about it.
"We have lung problems and worries about breathing, so the flu has caused great anxiety," says O Neal. This year she takes no risk: she has already contracted a flu vaccine.
That's absolutely the right decision, Dr. MeiLan Han, a professor of internal medicine in the Department of Lung and Intensive Care Medicine at the University of Michigan Health System and a national spokesman for the American Lung Association.
When generally healthy people get the flu, they may feel sick for a week or more, she says. But for someone with underlying lung disease, it can take longer to recover from the flu – three to four weeks. "What worries me most about these patients," says Han, "is hospitalization and respiratory failure."
In fact, according to Han, 92% of adults have been hospitalized for influenza and have at least one underlying chronic illness, such as diabetes, asthma or kidney or liver disease.
When people with underlying lung disease get sick with the flu, she says, "the virus enters the lungs directly and it can be a difficult, even harder to breathe."
Other chronic conditions – diabetes , HIV and cancer, among them – affect the immune system, explains Han, and make people with these diseases unable to develop a robust response to the flu virus without the immunization boost of a flu shot.
That is, the inflammation and infection, if they are ill with the flu, can become more serious, she says.
Even many of her own patients do not realize how bad the flu is, Han says.
"People often tell me," This is not me, I've never had the flu, I'm not at risk, and I'm not near people who could give me the flu. "
Neal says she always thought she was not endangered either – until the flu flattened her.
Healthy pregnant women are also more susceptible to complications and hospitalization if they get the flu and are urged by the Centers for the Control and Prevention of Diseases and Gynecologists to be vaccinated against both influenza and pertussis. However, the majority of mothers surveyed in the US – 65% – were not vaccinated against these two diseases. According to a recent report by CDC Vital Signs.
Some women falsely fear that the flu vaccine is unsafe for them or their babies. "I think some of the security fears are understandable, but they are misinformed." says Dr. Alicia Fry, Head of the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention of the CDC's Influenza Department.
The evidence is unequivocal, says Fry: The vaccine is extremely safe risk of Hospi flu 40% septicemia of pregnant women.
Fry fears that vaccinating the woman may not be safe for the developing fetus. When a pregnant woman is vaccinated, antibodies that control the flu virus pass through the placenta and can protect her baby during those critical months before and after birth.
"Fry says," So it's a double protection: Mama is protected and the baby is protected. "Infants can not receive the flu vaccine until they are six months old.
Now the vaccine may no longer protect against all But Schaffner says the shot is still worth a lot this year and every year.
"Although it is not perfect, the vaccine we have today actually prevents many diseases altogether," he says. And even if you get flu, it's probably less severe and less likely to cause complications. "