Have you seen the signs suggesting that it's time for a flu shot? If not, you probably will soon. Americans are largely being urged to get their flu shots without delay. Here's what you need to know.
The Upcoming Flu Season May Be Rough
The flu is making an early entrance this year. Even though flu season in this country typically starts in October. the United States takes its cue from other countries, like Australia, where the flu season is now winding down. Australia just had its worst flu season on record. Over 270,000 people in that country suffered from the flu this year — compared to just 60,000 the year before. In addition, one child in the United States has already died of the flu in early September.
Experts say that a death this early in the season is enough reason for concern. People need to be proactive and obtain their flu shots as soon as possible.
The Flu Vaccine Is Unique Every Year
Flu vaccines are updated and revised every year based on medical predictions about what components need to be in the current vaccine. The World Health Organization (WHO) makes the decision about which viruses people need to innoculate against the most every year, based on scientists' best predictions about which strains are going to be the most active. Every flu vaccine is designed to combat several varieties of the disease. The flu's ability to constantly mutate is what makes repeat inoculations so important.
There Are Several Options Available
The flu shot that is given in the upper arm is the most widely used vaccination each year. It is generally used for most reasonably healthy adults and children over eight years of age. Children between the ages of 6 months and 8 years usually need to receive two shots, four weeks apart, to be fully inoculated.
Other options include high-dose shots for people over the age of 65 and a nasal spray. The nasal spray contains a live influenza virus and cannot be used by people over the age of 65 or those with a compromised immune system.
If you have any concerns about whether or not you should get a flu shot, it's best to consult directly with a doctor. Most walk-in clinics are more than happy to provide flu vaccinations for you and your family. If you're uncertain whether or not the flu shot is a good idea this year, take the time to visit a walk in-clinic and consult with one of the on-staff physicians about your concerns.
As a parent, I notice that my kids always seem to get sick or injured on the weekends and evenings, never when the doctor's office is actually open. When that happens, you're left wondering: is the fever serious enough for the emergency room, or can it wait until morning? Does that sprain require immediate treatment, or should I just bring them to the doctor on Monday? Now, however, there's a new option in my area: urgent care. If I don't think we need the emergency room, but also can't wait for the doctor's office to open, urgent care is the in-between option that allows us to get fast treatment at a lower cost than your average ER visit. Take a look through this blog to find out more about emergency and urgent care and how to tell which one you need.