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MaryO

The flu: questions and answers

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Some Questions and Answers About Flu

.c The Associated Press

 

ATLANTA (AP) - Health officials say this year's flu outbreak, which has spread faster and earlier than usual, appears to be the worst in at least three years. Here are answers to some common flu season questions:

 

Q: What's the difference between a cold and flu?

 

A: Colds usually begin slowly and last only two to seven days, although it can be two weeks. They start with a scratchy, sore throat, followed by sneezing and a runny nose. You may get a mild cough later. Infants and young children can sometimes run temperatures up to 102 F. with a cold.

 

Flu often begins with a sudden headache and dry cough, possibly a runny nose and sore throat; also achy muscles and extreme fatigue. You may run a fever up to 104. Most people feel better in a couple of days, but the tiredness and cough can last for two weeks or longer. Flu can cause severe illness and life-threatening complications in some people.

 

Children may have symptoms - nausea, vomiting or diarrhea - that are not common for adults.

 

Flu can be confirmed with a test if given within two to three days after symptoms begin, but getting it isn't always practical.

 

Q: What flu symptoms are dangerous?

 

A: A combination of symptoms - sustained fever and chills, chest pain that gets worse when taking a deep breath and sputum that's a yellow color - can indicate pneumonia and a doctor should be consulted.

 

Q: Can I get the flu even though I got a flu shot this year?

 

A: Yes, although it often lessens the severity of the virus and can prevent deadly complications. Typically, the flu shot protects between 70 percent and 90 percent of healthy people under age 65. The elderly are more susceptible.

 

The power of the flu shot also depends on how well it matches the flu virus in circulation. The current Fujian flu strain that is affecting most people is not the strain in this year's flu shot. But disease experts say it is a close enough match that considerable protection should be provided.

 

Q: What are complications from the flu?

 

A: They include bacterial pneumonia, dehydration and worsening of chronic medical conditions such as congestive heart failure, asthma or diabetes. Seniors and those with chronic medical conditions are at highest risk.

 

Q: How is flu spread?

 

A: It spreads when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks and the virus is sent into the air.

 

Q: How soon can I get sick from the flu?

 

A: It takes one to four days - on average two days - for a person exposed to the flu virus to develop symptoms.

 

Q: How do I protect myself?

 

A: The best way for individuals, particularly those at high risk for its serious complications, is to get a flu shot. It is particularly recommended for the elderly and children 6 months to 23 months.

 

Q: How many people get sick or die from the flu?

 

A: It's estimated 10 percent to 20 percent of U.S. residents get the flu and 114,000 are hospitalized each season for flu-related complications. Typically, it kills about 36,000 people in the United States each year, but experts say this year could be worse.

 

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 

On the Net:

 

CDC information:

 

http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/flu/facts.htm

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STATEMENT BY TOMMY G. THOMPSON

Secretary of Health and Human Services

Urging Americans To Get Influenza Vaccine

 

A flu vaccination will protect the health of millions of Americans this flu season. That's why we have worked with manufacturers to ensure that there is more vaccine available in the United States this year than ever before.

 

We are urging people to visit a health professional and get vaccinated to protect themselves and their loved ones from the flu. Among those we recommend get vaccinated are people 50 years and older, women who will be pregnant during the flu season, and all children six to 23 months of age.

 

A full list of people who should get vaccinated is available at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/

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I work at flu shot clinics every year. I am also the first in line. It is important for us that have decreased immune systems to get the flu shot.

 

fyi....the vaccine is a little late this year, but there will be enough for everyone.

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I just called my doctor to be notified when they come in here. Like Lorrie, I always get one of those. It's pretty painless and good protection for a Cushie, I think.

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Date: October 5, 2004

For Release: Immediately

Contact: HHS Press Office

(202) 690-6343

 

 

STATEMENT FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

Regarding Chiron Flu Vaccine

 

Clearly, the loss of the Chiron flu vaccine poses a serious challenge to our

vaccine supply for the upcoming flu season. Chiron was to produce between

46-48 million doses of influenza vaccine for the United States. The

Department has begun pursuing contingencies for this loss of supply.

 

We currently anticipate having approximately 54 million doses of influenza

vaccine from Aventis and about another 1-2 million doses of FluMist nasal

spray. HHS had planned for a vaccine supply of about 100 million doses this

season, after a demand of about 87 million doses last flu season.

 

Our immediate focus will be on making sure that the supply we do have

reaches those who are most vulnerable. The Centers for Disease Control and

Prevention is convening its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to

prioritize its recommendations on who should get the flu vaccine for this

season based on the new vaccine supply information.

 

We will need the help of the public, the public health community and the

medical community to make sure that the vaccine goes to those who truly need

it most.

 

We are in the process of learning more detailed information about why the UK

regulatory authority suspended Chiron's license for three months and whether

anything can be done to address the issues involved. The Department of

Health and Human Services, including its Food and Drug Administration,

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Institutes for

Health, are working with their counterparts in the British government as

well as Chiron regarding this matter.

 

The Department also has begun exploring whether more flu vaccine can be

manufactured for this flu season. This includes working with Aventis on its

ability to provide more vaccine. At this point, however, it is not known

whether it's possible to get more vaccine.

 

HHS and its agencies will make more information available regarding the

influenza vaccine supply as it becomes available.

 

 

 

 

###

 

Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are

available at http://www.hhs.gov/news.

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I read that earlier, Mary, and started to worry. If I don't get a shot - ain't no one seein' me until Spring. I'll stay right here in my little apartment.... Well, big one!

 

Anyone up to bringing in groceries??? I'll even give you a bed for the night.... And lots and lots of chatter..... :blink:

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Well, I'm screwed!

 

The following was in today's edition of most of the MI newspapers:

 

"Flu shot clinics scheduled for worksites, pharmacies and grocery stores have been canceled so VNS has enough vaccine to supply nursing homes and caregivers."

 

They are hoping to have enough to give to the elderly - only!

 

Prior to reading this article I had called my doctor's office and they'd already told me that they would not have any flu shots to give and that the health department was not going to be able to give them this year either.....

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Same here, Sue ;) No one seems to be able to get any. I was thinking, maybe if I volunteered as an aide at the hospital that they'd have to give me a shot. Then I could quit! Whatcha think? :)

 

Seriously, this is very scary.

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Sue, with your history of bronchitis/pneuomonia you are at very high risk. You need that shot. At least in my area, clinics are still being held at the senior centers....could you possibly slip in line there?

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Sue,

 

Lorrie is right. Your respiratory disease history is serious and puts you at high risk. Because you are in such a high risk group, you are included in the group that is guaranteed eligible for vaccination.

 

Head to one of the nursing homes or try a few more private doctors in your neighborhood-some are secretly stockpiling but they are going fast. You can always take a few pages of your medical records (don't take it all, you'll freak them out ;) ) that refer to your most recent respiratory history, even if it is several years old.

 

Let us know if you get one!

 

Bug :)

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I'm not sure that any of this would help protect us from the flu, but here

s some more, from thirdage.com:

 

How to Ward Off the Flu This Winter

 

The wisdom mothers have been dispensing for ages -- wash your hands, eat your vegetables, go to bed earlier -- turns out to be great advice for avoiding the flu.

 

Doctors and nutritionists say careful hygiene, a balanced diet and plenty of rest and fluids can go a long way toward keeping people healthy during the influenza season, especially considering this year's vaccine shortage.

 

"Taking care of yourself from a health standpoint is probably the best thing you can do," said Dr. R. Michael Gallagher, a family physician and dean of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey's School of Osteopathic Medicine.

 

"People who are run down, they're overworked, not getting proper rest or proper nutrition, these people increase their risk" of illness, he said.

 

Besides getting enough sleep -- at least seven hours a night for adults and more for youngsters -- managing stress is important, Gallagher said, because too much can weaken one's immune system.

 

Frequent hand-washing, using soap and hot water and rubbing vigorously for about half a minute, also is crucial.

 

"What you want to do it is try to interrupt transmission of disease with the kinds of things our mothers taught us," said Dr. Mitchell Cohen of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 

Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, because germs on your hand could infect you, he said. And, if you do get the flu, stay home from work or school so you don't infect others.

 

The United States will get only half its expected supply of flu vaccine this year because British health authorities suspended the license of vaccine producer Chiron Corp. at the company's Liverpool, England, factory because of contamination.

 

Cohen said the CDC is planning two public education campaigns, first to explain the shortage and who should or shouldn't get vaccinated, and second to teach people how to protect themselves through hygiene and "cough etiquette."

 

The old advice was to cough or sneeze into your hands, then wash them, but children and many adults don't wash up immediately. That means they can spread the flu virus or other germs via a handshake or touching a doorknob, computer keyboard or other surface, where those germs can live for hours. Now doctors are urging that, if a tissue isn't at hand, people -- especially children -- should sneeze into their sleeve.

 

"Doctors have been emphasizing this in the last several years," said Dr. Ron Davis, an American Medical Association trustee and preventive medicine specialist.

 

Davis said hand sanitizers are a good option when soap and water aren't available, but anti-bacterial soaps offer little benefit.

 

Another new piece of advice is to stop refilling the bottles of water so many of us carry.

 

The bottles accumulate germs and shouldn't be reused or shared, said American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Gail Frank, a professor of nutrition at California State University-Long Beach. But don't skip the water, because eight glasses of fluid a day is essential to health, aiding in almost every process in the body.

 

People, especially the elderly and those in poor health, also should avoid crowds and people who are coughing or sneezing, said Dr. Michele Bachhuber, an internal medicine specialist at Marshfield Clinic in Marshfield, Wis.

 

"Regular exercise helps boost our immune system, so that's important, too," she said.

 

Then there's the role of diet. Frank said it's crucial to eat a healthy and substantial breakfast, about one-fourth of the day's calories.

 

Variety in the diet is important, but people should emphasize plant foods, including whole grains and at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, said Elisa Zied, another American Dietetic Association spokeswoman and a registered dietitian in New York.

 

She said people can help keep their immune system strong by eating foods rich in vitamins A, C and E: milk, eggs and fish oil; citrus fruits, melons and red peppers; and nuts, spinach, peanut butter and corn oil.

 

Moms, doctors and health officials have been dispensing most of this advice for decades, but many people clearly forget or ignore it.

 

"We always worry about the healthy behavior fading over time as the crisis subsides, so we have to keep reminding people about the benefits of good hygiene and vaccination and taking care of themselves," said Davis, of the AMA. "I expect that people will listen more carefully ... because many people are going to have a hard time getting their flu shot."

 

Source: Associated Press. Powered by YellowBrix, Inc.

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This is scary about not having enough flu shots. I talked with my Rheumatologist and she says, that if I can get the shot somewhere she fully recommends the shot, she even wrote a note on her prescription pad for myself asking them to please give me a flu shot because I have SLE and Autoimmune thyroiditis, plus numerous other health issues, so we will see, the first thing will be to find a place who is offering the shots, I'm going tomorrow to try and get a shot for my Mom and I will stand in line to see what they say, bad part, the place that is giving them only has 147 shots and have already recieved over 1000 phone calls of people asking about the shots.

 

Best wishes everyone and I do agree keep your hands washed and stay away from sick people if at all possible. I gave my husband those clorox bleach wipes last year to take to work and I carried some in my car to wipe my hands after I got out of stores, my husband seems to always bring stuff home from work, anyhow, last year we both stayed pretty healthy, praying this year we will too, Also, hopeing each of you here stay healthy the rest of this year and more.

 

Paula

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After a broadcast about the shortage of flu vacine our local TV station offered this tip: If you can't get a flu shot, be sure to get a pneumonia shot. This way, if you do catch the flu, you won't get the complications! Pass this on.

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I have been informed by multiple people (off Board) that Cushies, especially those with high cortisol levels, are considered "hgighly-at-risk" persons for flu shot persons and very definitely should be getting flu shots.

 

Apparently due to effect of excessive cortisol shi=utting down one's immune system...

 

I noted that by local Endo nor my PCP or my Urologist or my GI specialist mentioned this....

 

Any standard thoughts or protocol on this???

 

LeroyB

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patients with cushing's or post cushing's patients should get a flu shot. They are at high risk. BLA pt's should definately get a flu shot.

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Ummm.....did not know that.

 

I think I'll be getting that shot this year...

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Leroy,

 

I got both a flu and a pneumonia shot because I am in such a mess. If you're post op or having immune issues I would ask for the pneumonia as well. I got one in each shoulder.

 

My immune system is barely there.

 

Renee

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My endo gave me a prescription for a flu shot as considers Cushing's a high risk situation.. The clinic is out of the vaccine, but with the prescription, I can go elsewhere. I'm post-pituitary surgery. I had the pneumonia immun. a year ago.

 

Time to bare your arm, sounds like! :(:(:(

 

Sharon

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Jeez, I don't mind the shots (now blood ests and IVs horrify me - yes, a big guy like me - but I can take shts all day)....

 

But I just wished that my endo or someone connected with this would have brought this matter up....

 

Leroy

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Leroy, there's some info and discussion about flu shots and such on the News Items board because they've been so, well, newsworthy this year.

 

Since Cushing's I've always gotten a flu shot. I think it's a good idea, if you acn. Our bodies just can't handle any more assault than we already have.

 

I haven't been able to find any place that thas any available, though :D The best I've gotten so far is "maybe in January".

 

Best of luck to you!

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I got my shot a few weeks ago. If the pharmacy doesn't know what Cushing's is (or the person giving the shot) just say that you're on long term high dose steroids - close enough, in my book.

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i lucked out, about 6 weeks ago, when i did my annual physical, the dr said .."oh, we just got the flu vacine in, want one?" ...this was the week before the shortage was reported. gotta love my gp!

--had the pneumonia shot 2 yrs ago ...understand we need a booster every 10 yrs. a cushie is suppossed to remember that? i don't think so!

---i did read somewhere (?) that people with autoimmune problems should NOT have the flu shot ...by then i had already had 2 yrs of flu shots & was still breathing so ignored this. also not sure it's true.

---hope everyone manages to find the shot, this is a real mess! jane

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jane, i work giving flu shots every year. I have not been told that everyone with autoimmune disorders cannot be vaccinated. However, you should talk to your doctor first if you have any neurological disorders like Multiple Sclerosis or Guillain Barre Syndrome. Those allergic to eggs should not receive the shot.

 

Leroy, try using your "view new posts" button at the top right side of each page. There has been lots of discussion about flu shots over the past month.

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