WILSON’S LOCAL PRINT AND DIGITAL COMMUNITY INSTITUTION SINCE 1896

It’s not too late to get a flu vaccine this season

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As we work our way through January and into February, we are likely entering the peak season for flu. As a result, I would like to take a few minutes to reinforce the importance of preventive steps and address some common misconceptions about the flu.

First and foremost, please be sure you and your family get vaccinated for the flu. This is the most effective prevention against this potentially serious illness that could benefit you as well as those with whom you come in contact. The flu shot should be strongly considered for anyone who is at least 6 months old. And it is not too late to get vaccinated, but please remember it takes approximately two weeks for the vaccine to become effective.

Other everyday preventive measures include washing your hands often with soap and water, covering your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough, and keeping surfaces in your home clean. If you are feeling ill, contact your provider and stay home until any fever has been gone for at least 24 hours.

There are several misconceptions regarding the flu:

• The vaccine cannot give you the flu. The vaccine is not a live virus and is not able to cause any infection.

• It is never better to get the flu than to get the vaccine. Although for most people the flu is a significant inconvenience, for some, it may be life threatening. And it can be difficult to determine how it will affect any specific person.

• Yes, you do need a flu vaccine every year. This is important to help your immune system best fight the virus. But once a year is adequate. No studies have shown any need for more than one vaccination per year.

• Yes, if you are pregnant you can take the vaccine, and in fact it is strongly recommended that you do get vaccinated. You are more susceptible to contracting the flu while you are pregnant.

Our mission at Wilson Medical Center is “Making Communities Healthier.” Highlighting the importance of flu prevention is part of that mission. We truly hope everyone will take the time to help prevent the spread of flu so that our community will be as healthy as possible.

For more information about the flu, visit www.cdc.gov/flu.

Dr. Ron Stahl is the chief medical officer at Wilson Medical Center.

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