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Protect yourself from upcoming flu season, get vaccinated now

Protect yourself from upcoming flu season, get vaccinated now

 

(Elmhurst, IL – September 1, 2014) – It may seem early, but it is time to start making plans to get vaccinated for the upcoming flu season.  Doctors say it’s important because flu shots can reduce your chances of catching a flu virus by 70 to 90 percent.

Flu shots are typically offered starting in September and October, slightly ahead of the usual October-May flu season.  If you get it too early, will it wear off before the flu season ends?

Although the flu season doesn’t peak until about January or February, a flu shot administered in early fall should carry you through most of the season, says Agron Elezi, MD, a primary care physician with Elmhurst Memorial Primary Care Associates.

“A flu shot early in the season will increase your chances of staying healthy,” says Dr. Elezi.  “The fact that the vaccine can take up to two weeks to become effective is even more reason to get your shot as soon as possible.”

Anyone over 6 months of age should have a flu shot, but especially pregnant women, people age 65 and older, and those with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes, Elezi says.  In addition to the regular flu shot, there is a high-dose shot for people 65 and over – folks who have weaker immune systems than the younger crowd.

A healthy person should get a flu shot, too.  It can improve your odds of avoiding the flu, and if you do get sick, it may not be as brutal.  If you don’t get the flu, the people around you won’t catch it from you, which is especially important for people who live or interact regularly with little kids or the elderly.

Believe it or not, the flu can be a killer.  The Centers for Disease Control reports that, over a period of 31 seasons between 1976 and 2007, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the U.S. range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people.  Most of the deaths are among people age 65 and older, the age group most at risk for severe illness from the virus.

People ages 2 to 49 who don’t care for shots may get the dose through a nasal spray, though this option isn't appropriate for people whose immune systems are compromised or women who are pregnant.

You won’t get the flu from a flu shot, because the viruses used in the shot are dead or weakened and cannot make you sick.  Sometimes people develop mild symptoms such as a low-grade fever, aches or a runny nose, but they don’t last long – and are a cinch compared to the symptoms a flu virus causes.

A flu shot is not an iron-clad guarantee that you won’t get sick, but it does give you a distinct advantage when the virus starts to make its rounds.

Dr. Elezi is accepting new patients at his offices, located at 3005 Wolf Road in Westchester, (331) 221-4390 and 305 N. York Road in Elmhurst, (331) 221-4350.  Watch his video at www.empca.org/MeetDrElezi.

 

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Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare Network

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