Dr. Lois Katz, Associate Chief of Staff for Special Emphasis Programs
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
There are so many things over which we have no control. But flu prevention with a flu shot isn't one of those unknowns. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older should get vaccinated against influenza as soon as 2012-2013 flu vaccine becomes available in their community. Flu vaccine is available at VA NY Harbor now!
"Ask your provider about getting vaccinated," says Dr. Lois Katz, Associate Chief of Staff for Special Emphasis Programs. Complications? "Pneumonia is a fairly common and serious complication of influenza. People can die of pneumonia," says Dr. Katz. "Every year, 36,000 people die of complications of flu. To me that's a big number," she says. Dr. Katz adds that infants and older adults, and people with asthma or other health problems are particularly at risk. She explained that the flu is contagious and can be communicated by uncovered sneezes or coughs even before people realize they have flu.
Flu symptoms can range from a runny nose and sore throat to a fatal respiratory illness. There is a plentiful supply of flu vaccine this year, but don’t wait - get your flu vaccine now. Maybe, if enough folks get vaccinated, fewer people will die of complications of the flu this year.
"It's important to know that there's no live virus in the flu vaccine. You can have some side effects like a little achiness, but for the most part the only side effect is a slightly sore arm. Prevention is so important," says Dr. Katz. Once you have the flu, there's no cure. Clinicians try to ease the symptoms and most fully encourage patients to make sure they get vaccinated to avoid getting the flu and risking complications.
Dr. Katz said that high dose flu vaccine is available for Veterans and hospital staff ages 65 and older. "We don't have enough information, but sometimes older people don't respond sufficiently to the standard dose," she notes. "We hope with the high potency vaccine, there will be a better immune response." In fact, the Harbor has about 6,000 doses of high dose vaccine available.
"Don't delay. Get your flu shot," says Dr. Katz. "You will protect yourself and your family!"