Influenza is more than just an inconvenience. Flu 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. But 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.
SOUND BITE: “CDC now recommends that everybody gets vaccinated. The special groups however who should absolutely get vaccinated are individuals over the age of 65, individuals with any chronic illnesses, lung problems, liver problems, asthma. . . Another very high risk group is children under 5 years of age, particularly 2 years to 5 years . . .”
Dr. Sundareshan says flu vaccinations definitely reduce the severity of the symptoms and decrease the spread of the disease.
SOUND BITE: “On a general basis, we say that for healthy people, their reduction in getting the illness is to the tune of 70 to 90 percent, but in patients that are sick, their risk reduction in getting it is about 30 to 50 percent.”
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.
This is Ruth Slottag at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.