These are the thoughts of a cantankerous ol' gynecologist who remembers when things were a little different. I try to find a little humor in my life and the people I meet along the way. Come meet the characters in my world.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Dr. Lasermed’s Flu Vaccine Fun Facts

Don’t forget to wash your hands and cover when you cough.

Influenza is a viral illness that is more common in the winter months.  It is an infection in your respiratory area causing fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle and body aches, headaches and / or fatigue.  Not everyone with flu will have all these symptoms, and having these symptoms does not necessarily mean you have the flu.  Most cases are self limited and you will get better in less than two weeks.  It’s worse than a cold.  There IS a test for it.  One you don’t want to pass (or is that fail?)

Some people get worse, progressing to pneumonia and other illnesses.  In an average flu season 36,000 people in the United States die of diseases related to the flu.  A whole bunch more are stuck in those crummy old hospitals or visit my friends in the emergency rooms.

If you have that stomach virus, it’s not “influenza”.  It’s “gastroenteritis”.   That’s a small comfort when you are cramping and feel like dying.  The only good part is you get to stay home and watch TV. 

Those who are at higher risk are:

·        People over 65 (I will NOT use the word elderly)

·        Pregnant women

·        Young children

·        People with medical conditions (diabetes, heart disease, cancer, asthma)

·        Health Care Professionals

The only way to prevent getting the flu is to be immunized.  You can have the shot, the nasal spray (if you are in the appropriate age group) or the super strong shot (new last year).  The CDC recommends everyone over 6 months old gets a flu shot.  If you are reading this, you qualify.

Flu shots do NOT cause the flu.  You may feel sore or have some aches for a couple of days.  Some years I get a sore arm.  Some years I don’t.  The year I didn’t get a flu shot (because of the shortage), I was sick all winter.  I qualify for the high risk groups because I’m a “health care professional”.  People keep bringing germs into my office!

 One other reason we should all get flu shots is to keep the virus from spreading.  There are some people who can’t get shots, but are at risk.  One example is those babies under 6 months old.  So, if the rest of us have immunity, they are safer.  It’s actually called herd immunity.  Mooooo!  And it works.  That’s why we immunize kids for all the stuff we immunize them for.  The more kids that have the vaccine, the less likely we are to have outbreaks of bad diseases.   

One of my kids has asthma.  So I take home shots for everyone every year.  I chase my kids around the house.  I have had to get them down from the bunk beds.  I finally made an agreement one year with Three Speed that he would take a shot if he could give me mine.  He was nine.  He has gotten quite good at it over the years.  Does scouting have a brave Mom badge?

A really good source of information is:

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