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 General Flu Information

Cold and flu season is quickly approaching and here at Womack Army Medical Center we want to make sure that our customers are protected. We believe it is an honor and a privilege to care for you each day and we want to keep you and your loved ones as healthy as possible. Keeping you up to date on your immunizations and the best health information out there is a major part of that. As we begin the 2013-2014 Flu Season there may be some questions and concerns you may have.

 

What is flu?

How serious is flu really?

When does flu season start?

Isn’t this the same vaccine as last year, why do I need another?

The flu vaccine gives me the flu.

I never get sick, why should I worry?

Who needs to get the vaccine?

Where and when can I get my vaccine?

What is flu?
Flu is an illness caused by a variety of influenza viruses that circulate throughout the population. Flu can vary from minor illness to a life-threatening condition. Most of the symptoms we usually recognize are cough, runny nose, fever, fatigue, body aches, chills and headaches.
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How serious is flu really?
The flu can be a very serious illness. in the United States about 5 to 20 percent of the population will get the flu each year and, more than 20,000 people are hospitalized from flu-related complications. There are anywhere between 3,300 to 48,600 deaths from flu-related causes each year. (On average23,600)
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When does flu season start?
Flu usually occurs in the colder winter months of the year, in the US generally from November to March. However, depending on the weather and the flu viruses each year, flu season can start earlier and extend further into the spring. The Centers for Disease Control generally track the flu season from October to May with weekly updates on their website.
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Isn’t this the same vaccine as last year, why do I need another?
You are correct the vaccine this year is the same as the vaccine last year. (Which included protection from the H1N1 strain) However, the influenza vaccine does not provide a lifelong immunity from the flu. Over the course of the year, your immunity to the virus drops off. Not only time but also age and health status can impact how long you are immune to the flu. Plus, usually the flu vaccine changes each year based on worldwide surveillance done in over 106 nations.
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The flu vaccine gives me the flu.
No, the flu shot does not give you the flu. The “flu shot”,( the inject able version) is an inactive or “dead” virus. Basically it is like giving your body a wanted poster for the flu and saying “Keep an eye out for this virus and destroy it on sight.” It allows your body to make antibodies to the flu, which will help fight the virus if you come in contact with it. The FluMist is a live virus, but it is temperature regulated and cannot live in the body. Most of the time when people get sick after receiving the flu vaccine, it is because they were infected with the flu prior to getting the vaccine. The flu vaccine is made up of three viruses, the selection of the viruses to be included in the seasonal flu vaccine is based on flu trends. They select the viruses that are circulating the globe the most, in order to provide the best possible protection.
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I never get sick, why should I worry?
You may not get sick, but getting the flu vaccine isn’t just to protect you. Getting the flu vaccine also helps to protect the people you care about. Usually a healthy person can fight off the flu with few to no symptoms. That doesn’t mean that you will pass it to someone that will be able to fight it off, like your children or grandparents. So even if you don’t get the flu vaccine, you should get it to protect the people you care about.
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Who needs to get the vaccine?
Everyone that can get the flu vaccine should. There are a few groups that should definitely get; People 65 years and older, children that are younger than 2 years old and people that have chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, congestive heart failure, lung disease, just to name a few.
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Where and when can I get my vaccine?
The flu vaccine will be available at your primary care clinic. If you are unable to get to your clinic, flu vaccine is also available, at no cost, at local off post Tri Care covered pharmacies.
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 If you would like further information on the flu or flu vaccine, please visit our “Helpful Links"