Time is now for precautions against impending influenza season

The herd theory suggests the number of people vaccinated within a population helps ward off contagions by a healthier community.
“I think one thing helping this area is that it’s a small closed community and not as many people are traveling. With bigger cities, there is such an influx of people and the virus is more likely to spread,” said Dr. Kirk Yamato, physician at Pioneer Community Hospital’s Chestnut Medical Clinic.
With each flu season as unpredictable as the last, a first defense is a flu shot. The flu vaccine can either be applied through injection or nasal spray. The antibodies developed typically two weeks after receiving a flu shot destroy the influenza virus after a person is exposed. Flu shots usually protect between 50 and 80 percent of those receiving them. People with egg allergies and newborns less than sixth months old should not get the flu vaccine. Those who especially need the flu vaccine are people age 50 and older; residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities; those with chronic lung or heart conditions, including asthma; those with chronic diseases like diabetes or kidney disease; women who will be pregnant during flu season; and those who might transmit the flu to high-risk individuals.
In the event of contracting the flu, rest and fluids are strongly recommended.
Covering your mouth when you cough, avoiding close contact with people with the flu and constant hand washing are important preventative measures.
While flu shot awareness typically begins in October, some professionals say the peak immunity is six to 12 weeks. Since flu season ranges from November until April with its peak normally during the winter months, it’s hard to anticipate when the vaccine is most needed.
“It’s hard to pinpoint when the peak of the flu season will be as it’s unpredictable year by year. Some viruses are more viral, which makes a difference on the season each year,” Yamato said.
According to the Center for Disease Control, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Louisiana and Texas ranked among the highest in the nation to flu-like illnesses as of Nov. 24. The CDC’s weekly influenza surveillance report estimated Mississippi to have a widespread outbreak of the flu in the week ending Nov. 24.

About Ray Van Dusen

I've been with the Monroe Journal since Aug. 2009 as a staff writer, but took the role as news editor in late 2012. I'm always looking for interesting story ideas from around Monroe County. You can reach me via email at ray.vandusen@journalinc.com.