Why does flu season come every year? Simple answer is there are 4 influenza strains that circulate in human population, 2 “A” variants and 2 “B”variants. Seasonally every year they evolve just enough to evade our immune systems making us susceptible for the infection.
How can I prevent myself/family from flu? Single best way is to get vaccinated each year. Other good health habits like Covering your washing hands, avoiding close contact with people that are sick etc; can prevent the spread of flu.
How many kinds of flu vaccines are there? T here are 2 kinds of vaccines given intramuscularly, trivalent (protects against 3 strains of flu virus) and quadrivalent (protects against 4 strains of flu virus). There is also another kind of flu vaccine,that comes as nasal spray, but that's not recommended this season.
Is flu vaccine effective? According to CDC,in the last 10 years the effectiveness in general population is between 40% to 60% in general population
Why is the effectiveness not better? Some strains of flu virus evolve from the time of recommendation for composition of flu vaccine to the time of flu season,making vaccine less effective in certain seasons. We also need better technology to deal with this shortcoming. There is ongoing research look into newer technologies to develop a more effective vaccine.
Who benefits from taking flu vaccine? Answer is everyone, but more beneficial in adults with chronic illness, less immunity, pregnant women, children amongst others.
What are the benefits of taking flu vaccine? Protects one from getting flu, makes one less sick from flu illness, less chance of hospitalization from complications of flu.
Does the vaccine protect from all kinds of illness that causes flu like symptoms? Unfortunately there are other flu like viruses that are not covered by the vaccine that can cause illness. They too become activated during flu season causing similar symptoms. So good health habits discussed above can help prevent the illness to a certain extent.
I see a lot of ads about medicines like Tamiflu, Is it recommended? Generally Tamiflu is recommended for persons with chronic illness, hospitalized patients and other persons that are likely to develop severe complications of flu. Tamiflu is most effective when taken within 48 hours of symptom onset.
What's new this flu season? Just like with any other flu season it's very hard to predict the time and severity of the season. This season for the first time n ew cell based technology was used to develop a vaccine, Flucelvax which is a quadrivalent vaccine that protects against 4 strains of virus. At Lifeline urgent care we are carrying flucelvax vaccine this year. Most insurances cover flu shot for free, but if you’re not covered or don't have insurance we offer it for a discounted price of 20 , which is half the price of Walgreens/CVS/HEB etc;