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By John Boblick
The new flu season officially begins this week and several things are new this year.
Now, one flu shot covers both the seasonal as well as the H1N1 flu strains - so no need for two separate doses like we experienced last year.
And the Center for Disease Control is recommending that everyone six months of age and older be vaccinated against the flu.
While determining the actual flu strain is unpredictable, experts anticipate that last season's H1N1 virus as well as two regular seasonal viruses will cause illness this flu season. The new 2010-2011 flu vaccine will protect against three different flu viruses: an H3N2 virus, an influenza B virus, and the famed H1N1 virus that caused so much panic and illness last season.
The Boblick practice received the serum in our Loyola Oak Park office on Monday, Oct. 4 and my fellow physicians and I have already given out more than 50 doses.
Remember that the flu vaccine takes two weeks to become effective so the earlier in the season you receive it, the better.
The combination flu serum is available in an injection as well as a mist.
The mist is actually more of a droplet that is placed in each nostril.
The mist is a great option for individuals between the ages of 2 and 49, who are healthy.
Kids really like this method, and I have to say so do many adults.
But interestingly, I have had many humorous conversations with my young Oak Park patients when contemplating receiving their flu shot.
The kids often are very knowledgeable about the flu and the shot, thanks to advance education from their family members.
No one likes to be sick - and having the flu is often a memorable experience.
Oak Park'ers Prefer A Shot In The Arm
I often give children - and adults - the option of where they would like their shot. The arm muscle is the most frequent site, with the leg being second in popularity.
The shot is given in the muscle, so it is less painful if the muscle is relaxed.
Contrary to popular folklore, it is very unusual to get a bad reaction to a flu shot.
And I honestly have never met any patients who "got the flu" from the vaccine.
It is absolutely true that people who have a genuine allergy to eggs should not receive a flu shot.
And new this year is the caution for those who have a latex allergy to share that with their short provider, and ask for a flu shot from a multi-batch, rather than a single batch.
It is believed that the single batch has a latex syringe tip.
The multi-batch does contain thimerosol, which does contain mercury, for those with concerns.
I know many are tempted to run to the nearest drugstore or even grocery store to get a fast, inexpensive flu vaccine. For most people, this is fine and a great convenience.
If you do have any special health concerns, please get your flu shot through your physician who has detailed knowledge of your medical history.
While flu is unpredictable, experts expect that last season's H1N1 virus as well as two regular seasonal viruses to cause illness this flu season. The new 2010-2011 flu vaccine will protect against three different flu viruses: an H3N2 virus, an influenza B virus, and the H1N1 virus that caused so much illness last season.
Most people who get the flu will have mild to moderate symptoms and will not need medical care or antiviral drugs. Few will need to be hospitalized and most will recover at home.
People at high risk for developing flu-related complications are:
- Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old;
- Adults 50 years of age and older; and adults living in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities;
- Pregnant women;
- American Indians and Alaskan Natives (based on the experience with H1N1 flu).
Thursday At The Buzz
The documentary "The Race To Nowhere" was shown to a standing room only audience of concerned parents and community members on Saturday morning. All who are interested in discussing the pressures to succeed on our young people should feel free to join in the public conversation at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 7 at The Buzz Cafe, Lombard and Harrison, in Oak Park. Lisa Liu, a fellow Loyola physician who practices in Oak Park, will attend and express her medical - as well as personal - viewpoints.