2017 Flu Reaching Epidemic Proportions: How to Protect Yourself

Roni Shye
Roni Shye, PharmD BCGP BCACP, is a licensed pharmacist in the states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also known as the CDC, this year’s flu has reached epidemic proportions in 37 states. An epidemic is a sudden increase in the  number of case of a disease, above what is normally expected in the population of a certain area. This year, according to the CDC, doctors have seen higher than normal rates of flu related visits for the past six consecutive weeks, and there have been 3 reported pediatric deaths related to the flu this year. However, don’t be alarmed, there are ways to protect yourself and your family!

Is it too late to get my flu vaccine?

If you haven’t gotten your flu vaccine for the 2017-2017 season, you might be wondering if it is too late. Fortunately it is not! Flu season is typically during the fall and winter months, but can last as long as May, with flu rates peaking during the months of December through February.

With the higher than normal rates of flu this year, now would be a good time to get the vaccine and protect yourself and your loved ones from the flu virus. Remember, it takes two weeks for the flu vaccine to start working. So the sooner, the better!

The easiest and most convenient place to get your flu vaccine would be at your local pharmacy. However, if your doctor’s office administers vaccines, they may still have some left over. Don’t forget, you can check prices for flu vaccinations on GoodRx!

What are the most common signs and symptoms of the flu?

The most common signs and symptoms of the flu include: fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and tiredness. Talk with your doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.

Which areas are having high flu activities?

This year, the CDC observed higher than normal flu rates in the following states: New York City, Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

Does getting the flu vaccine guarantee I won’t get the flu?

No. Unfortunately, just because you get the flu vaccine doesn’t mean you won’t get the flu.

Scientists predict what they think will be the most common strains for each flu season, and flu vaccinations are based upon those predictions. However, there are many different strains, which may not be accounted for in each years seasonal flu vaccines.

This means that it will be important to take other precautionary measures, like washing your hands, avoiding close contact with people, and cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects that may be contaminated. You can read more about the CDC’s everyday preventative actions here.

What can I do if I get the flu?

First off, see your doctor as soon as possible if you start experiencing any flu symptoms. Tamiflu is also an option as long as you take it within the first 48 hours of getting the flu, but you must get a prescription from your doctor. There are also a lot of over the counter medications that can help ease symptoms. For more information, and for help deciding which one is best for you, check out this tool from our friends at Iodine.

Is the flu vaccine recommended in any special populations?

Yes. The following groups of people are at high risk of developing flu-related complications:

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