October 22, 2013
Influenza can be a significant health threat for individuals of all ages, especially seniors and children who have other medical conditions.
Influenza sends more than 200,000 Americans to the hospital each year and it is among the leading causes of death for senior citizens. Getting a flu vaccination can help prevent it. Dr. Vidya Sundareshan, assistant professor of infectious diseases at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield, explains who should be vaccinated.
“Everybody should get a flu shot, particularly if people are diabetic or have had strokes, heart disease, have asthma, children less than five years of age, pregnant women, these are the type of people who should definitely get a flu shot. If they have any history of immuno-compromised HIV or AIDS or have a history of cancer, they should definitely get a flu shot.”
Dr. Sundareshan says flu vaccinations definitely reduce the severity of the symptoms of the disease. It is important to get the vaccination each year because the immunity wanes over time. She advises getting the vaccination at the beginning of the season.
“The influenza season lasts anywhere between October to May. It peaks in the United States in January and February, but as soon as the flu shot is available, we should get the vaccine. The CDC, in fact, recommends that it is one the weapons that you can equip yourself with to protect yourself and be prepared for the flu season.”
Dr. Sundareshan says if someone gets very ill from influenza, they should go to their primary care physician or the emergency department. Individuals who have the flu should be vigilant about hand washing and stay home from work or school so they do not cause others to get sick.
For information about getting a flu vaccination, contact your primary care physician, local public health department or pharmacy.