GHS Cares: 2018 Flue Update
The flu season is upon us and it has hit the country very hard. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) predicts that if this season follows prior similar season trends, approximately 34 million Americans will get the flu this year. Currently, 6.6% of doctor visits across the country are regarding flu-like illnesses, and 9% of recently reported deaths have been attributed to the flu. Sadly, 37 pediatric deaths related to the flu have been reported across the country thus far this season. Needless to say, we are busy here at Granville Primary Care, and we want to ensure our patients are as prepared as possible.
Fact #1 Flu season is only halfway through; it is estimated to last another couple of months.
Flu activity has been high across the country for about the last nine weeks. This year’s flu season has been unusual in that flu activity spiked across the United States simultaneously rather than slowly traveling across the country. The CDC reports the country is currently about halfway through flu season, as the average season is around 16 weeks. This means there is roughly two more months of potential exposure to the flu.
Fact #2 The flu vaccine is still available and recommended!
Many of our patients are asking if it is still worth getting vaccinated this season and the answer is yes! We do not yet know exactly how effective the vaccine is, but any protection is important both for you and your loved ones. Even if the vaccine does not prevent the flu, it has been shown to decrease the severity of illness so you may have a shorter or milder course. Also, given that we may be experiencing two more months of high flu activity, the vaccine still has plenty of time to work. And as discussed before, the flu vaccine does not cause the flu!
Fact #3 If you have the flu, there are certain courses of action to take depending on the severity and how long you’ve had it.
If you believe you’ve come down with the flu please start with basic self-care: Make sure you are hydrating, resting, and do not go to work or school. There are medicines that can sometimes shorten the course of illness, but you need to start taking these within two days of developing symptoms for them to help. Many people ask if you need to go to the emergency room when you develop symptoms of the flu. The answer is not necessarily. Obviously if you are very ill with symptoms including trouble breathing, feeling like you are going to pass out, or confusion then please go to the Emergency Room. However, if you feel stable it could be beneficial to see your primary care doctor. The affected populations that are most susceptible to worsening are young children, adults over age 65, and anyone with lung disease or other serious medical conditions. These folks should absolutely schedule a same-day appointment with their doctor.
For those of you who both have and have not gotten the flu yet, keep up the prevention methods: Wash your hands often, make sure you’ve gotten the flu vaccine, and take care of yourself. We here at Granville Primary Care, Butner-Creedmoor are available to discuss vaccinations or any flu symptoms.
Dr. Liz Baltaro and Dr. Amy Nayo are primary care physicians expanding community access to quality pediatric and family medicine at Granville Primary Care, Butner-Creedmoor, located at 1614 NC Highway 56, Butner. To schedule your primary care appointment, please call 919-575-6103 or schedule online at ghshospital.org. You can schedule a primary care appointment with a provider as far as 12 months in advance through online scheduling.