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What is The Flu & Why Should I Get a Flu Vaccine?

What is The Flu & Why Should I Get a Flu Vaccine?

The flu is a contagious viral illness caused by strains of influenza A or B. Patients suffer from fever, chills, headaches, body aches, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose and cough. Last year there were an estimated 39 to 56 million cases of the flu in the US – with 410,000 to 740,000 hospitalizations and 24,000 to 62,000 deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 188 of those deaths were attributed to pediatric patients.

The flu vaccine contains protection from three to four different strains of the influenza virus. Each year a new vaccine is made to cover the strains the experts believe will circulate that year. This is why everyone over 6 months old should get a yearly flu vaccine. The CDC estimated the flu vaccine prevented as many as 3,500 deaths and 58,000 hospitalizations in 2018. This year it is more important than ever to protect oneself and avoid a “twindemic” of the flu and coronavirus. In addition to the flu shot there is an option for a nasal flu vaccine called Flumist, which consists of a squirt of liquid up the nose. Currently, it is only offered at the TMPN-Carson Pediatrics office for patients above 2 years old. Flumist contains the same four strains of influenza protection as the shot but it is only indicated for patients from age 2 to 49 years old. Patients who have asthma or are taking aspirin are not candidates for Flumist are advised to talk to their healthcare provider to see which option is best for them. Most pharmacies only offer flu shots and only administer vaccines to patients over 4 years old. Check with your specific pharmacy.

The ideal time to receive the flu vaccine is September and October, although you can still receive the vaccine throughout the winter months since peak flu season is typically around January or February. It is important to note it takes a couple of weeks after the flu vaccine is received to have maximum immunity. All Torrance Memorial Physician Network primary care offices currently stock this year’s flu vaccine. Contact your physician’s office to make arrangements. It is best to plan ahead as patients must be physically distanced so offices are unable to vaccinate as many patients per day as before. Torrance Memorial is currently offering drive-thru COVID-19 and Flu testing (by appointment only). Contact your doctor if you need testing.

Dr. Annette Liu 

Torrance Memorial Physician Network Carson Peds