Why should I get the flu shot this year?

Why should I get the flu shot this year?

John P. Ziegler, MD, Lexington Clinic Family Physician

Each year, flu vaccines are recommended for all patients by physicians, pharmacists, providers and nurses everywhere. While a flu vaccine does not guarantee a patient complete protection against the flu (studies have shown they are 50-60% effective among the general population), they still offer many benefits to stay healthy during flu season.

Those who still get the flu after receiving the vaccine are much less likely to become seriously ill.

According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, having a flu shot reduced the risk of children being hospitalized for flu-like symptoms by 74% and reduced the risk of adults older than 50 being hospitalized for flu-like symptoms by 57%.

The flu vaccine is an important tool for patients with chronic health conditions. Some research has shown patients with heart disease, especially those who had a cardiac event in the past year, have lower rates of cardiac events after receiving an annual flu vaccine. Additionally, a flu vaccine has been shown to reduce hospitalization for patients with diabetes and chronic lung disease.

A flu vaccine helps protect women and the developing baby during, and after, pregnancy.

Getting vaccinated not only protects you, but the people around you during flu season.

While it is recommended that every patient receives a flu vaccine each year, there are groups who are more at risk for catching the flu, and for developing serious flu-related symptoms. For this reason, it is even more important for patients from these groups to receive their annual vaccine.

Those groups include:

  • Pregnant women
  • Children between 6 months and 5 years of age
  • Adults 18 years and older who receive aspirin therapy
  • Adults older than 50
  • Patients with chronic medical conditions
  • Patients who live or work in a nursing home or chronic care facility
  • Patients who work in a healthcare facility
  • Patients who work in a position that requires regular contact with other at-risk patients.

It’s time to get your flu vaccine! Ask your primary care provider for the vaccine at your next appointment. You can also schedule an appointment or simply walk-in to receive the shot at any of our 9 primary care locations.

For help scheduling an appointment or to find the location closest to you, please call (859) 258-4362 or visit LexingtonClinic.com.

What is the difference between a cold and the flu?

The flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses but they are caused by different viruses. Because these two types of illnesses have similar symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. In general, the flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms are more common and intense. Colds are usually milder than the flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations. Flu can have very serious associated complications.

How can you tell the difference between a cold and the flu?

Because colds and flu share many symptoms, it can be difficult (or even impossible) to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. Special tests that usually must be done within the first few days of illness can tell if a person has the flu.

Influenza Symptoms

Influenza (also known as the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The flu is different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:
  • Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
* It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.

John P. Ziegler, MD, is a board-certified family medicine physician at Lexington Clinic Andover Family Health Center. He provides services in general family medicine, pediatrics, geriatric medicine and preventive medicine. His professional interests include psychiatry/mood disorders.

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