Once Again, Time to Immunize!
It is, once again, time to consider our health concerns as days are beginning to grow shorter. We should beware of the expected influenza season coming this winter. It will have company as well with the ever-present COVID again making a resurgence in our community. There is also a new vaccine for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) for those sixty and older, available this fall.
Things you should know…
Influenza is a respiratory infection that causes fever, cough, sore throat, and nasal congestion. More symptoms include headaches, muscle aches and fatigue. Although these complaints are similar to the common cold, the severity is typically much worse. Not only can the intensity be serious enough to cause weeks of lost work or school, but the infectiousness can be so powerful as to affect a workplace or school from a single source. Influenza can cause complications which kills thousands of Americans every year, more commonly those with chronic health problems, the elderly and very young. However, anyone can suffer a complication of this illness, sometimes requiring hospitalization with significant lost time from daily routines, or even resulting in death. Fortunately, there is treatment for influenza with early intervention.
A severe outbreak may commonly last up to eight weeks regionally and can often infect one out of every three people in a community. Hand washing and hygiene are always important, but the single best prevention of influenza is seasonal immunization. Appropriate for almost everyone six months or older, it is especially important for those with any chronic disease such as asthma, COPD, diabetes, heart, kidney or liver disease, overweight, 50 and older, and any kind of cancer.
The influenza immunization recommendation from the CDC for the 2023-2024 season includes only quadrivalent vaccines. This year vaccines have been updated to match the expected circulating viruses and are provided as the inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV), the live attenuated nasal spray (LAIV4) (ages 2-50), and the recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV). There is also a high-strength vaccine available for those 65 and older.
For those interested, the updated protections for this year’s likely infections include: (*updated strains)
*A/Victoria/4897/2022 (H1N1) pdm09-like virus
A/Darwin/9/2021 (H3N2)-like virus
B/Austria/1359417/2021-like virus (B/Victoria lineage)
B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus (B/Yamagata lineage)
*A/Wisconsin/67/2022 (H1N1) pdm09-like virus
A/Darwin/6/2021 (H3N2)-like virus
B/Austria/139417/2021 – like virus (B/Victoria lineage);
B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus (B/Yamagata lineage).
Annual flu vaccines are commonly covered by most health insurance programs at no cost to patients. These immunizations are usually readily available at county health clinics, most retail pharmacies, and many primary care offices. You should best have your immunization administered in September or October. With that administration, you should be protected for the entire influenza season which may go well into the spring. It can take up to two full weeks to acquire immunity from the shot. Talk to your health care provider soon. NOW is the time to IMMUNIZE.
Bradford Croft, DO
East Flagstaff Family Medicine