What are the symptoms of the flu?Flu symptoms include:
- A 100 degrees F or higher fever or feeling feverish (not everyone with the flu has a fever)
- A cough and/or sore throat
- A runny or stuffy nose
- Headaches and/or body aches
- Nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea (most common in children)
Make sure you get a shot this year
According to the CDC few than 1/2 Americans get a flu shot.
The CDC suggests that senior citizens get a second type of vaccine against pneumoccoccus, a bacteria that can cause pneumonia and hospitalizes 50,000 Americans each year.
Those 65 and older can get a one-time vaccination with the combination pneumococcal vaccine Prevnar 13. Seniors should also get a second one-time vaccination with another polysaccharid vaccine that protects against 23 strains of pneumococcus.
The shots should be taken 6 months apart.
Flu Vaccine May Not Be Good Match For This Year's Strain
This year a mutated strain of influenza will be less effective against the virulent strain. In September, health officials detected the changes in the most prevalent flu strain so far in the U.S., the virulent H3N2, after the vaccine for this year already went into production. The CDC continues to recommend flu vaccine as the single best way to protect yourself against the flu. The current vaccine will give some protection against the flu.
Tamiflue is an antiviral drug that is recommended by the US Center for Disease Control and the only drug approved by the FDA for flu treatment. To be effective it should be taken at the first appearance of flu symptoms. Contact your physician if symptoms occur and children, older Americans and those in poor health should be particularly concerned. Side effects of taking Tamiflu can be nausea and vomiting.
From the New York Times, September 3, 2014
A Better Flu Shot
By JUDITH GRAHAM
For the past four years, doctors’ offices, medical clinics and pharmacies have offered older adults high-dose versions of the annual flu vaccine. The hope was that this alternative would better protect seniors, but scientific evidence proving its effectiveness has been lacking.
Now a study, published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine, finds that Fluzone High-Dose does indeed prevent influenza in older adults, reducing cases of the flu by 24% compared with the standard version.
But some experts warn that it remains difficult to assess the effectiveness of flu vaccines generally in older patients. Fluzone High-Dose contains four times the amount of antigen (an agent that stimulates the immune system) found in other flu shots. Previous research had indicated this boost produced a greater antibody response in recipients — significant because the immune response becomes less robust with age.
The cost of the high-dose vaccine is $28.65 a dose (2014 cost), and Medicare covers one shot a year without a co-payment.