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EDITORIAL: Don't mess with the flu; get a vaccine

Observer-Dispatch - 12/21/2017

Dec. 21--Get a flu shot yet?

If not, you should.

Health officials said last week that the flu is spreading rapidly across the nation, with a dozen states now reporting widespread cases just in time for the holiday season.

Some people scoff at getting a flu shot, often because they've been influenced by myths about the vaccine. Topping that list is the claim that you can catch the flu from the vaccine. Wrong. The vaccine is made from an inactivated virus that can't transmit infection. People who get sick after getting a flu shot were going to get sick anyway.

The Centers for Disease Control say that following the flu shot are usually mild and can include a low grade fever and aches. Other reactions following the flu shot are usually mild and can include a low grade fever and aches. If these reactions occur, the CDC says they usually begin soon after the shot and last 1-2 days. The most common reactions people have to flu vaccine are considerably less severe than the symptoms caused by actual flu.

The flu isn't just a cold. It's much more miserable.

Health officials say this year's flu vaccine seems well matched to the viruses making people sick, but it's still too early to tell how bad this season will be. It began picking up last month, and by Dec. 8, seven states reported widespread flu activity: Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Virginia.

By late last week, the New York state Health Department said flu is now prevalent in New York state, which means health care workers who haven't had a flu shot must wear procedural masks around patients. Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker says everyone over 6 months old is encouraged to get a flu shot as soon as possible. He says the vaccine is especially important for people at high risk of complications from flu, including children under 2, pregnant women and adults over 65.

As a precaution, Mohawk Valley Health Systems officials announced new visiting guidelines for the Level II Special Care Nursery at the St. Luke's Campus of the Mohawk Valley Health System. Babies in the nursery are at greater risk of complications from the flu, they said in a news release, and therefore only visitors 12 years old and older may visit at this time. The hospital asks that if someone who visits feels ill with any type of upper respiratory problem that they stay home to keep themselves and the babies safe.

They also offered some guidelines to protect against flu:

--Frequent and thorough hand washing.

--Covering all coughs and sneezes.

--Staying home from work, school or social events if you have a fever, cough, sore throat, body aches and pains or other symptoms like nausea or vomiting sometimes associated with influenza.

--Avoiding people exhibiting symptoms of a flu-like illness.

--Getting the flu vaccine.


(c)2017 Observer-Dispatch, Utica, N.Y.

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