The leaves are changing, and the air is getting crisp, which means that the flu season is getting closer and closer. Flu viruses are most common during the fall and winter months. Influenza activity typically begins to increase in October and November, but peaks between December and February. However, the flu season can stick around as late as May. I know, May is the time when you start prepping for Summer. But keep up your healthy habits to avoid that last surge of flu season.
When Should I Get My Flu Shot?
October is here (cue spooky season) which means that this is the prime time to get your vaccination. If you’re able to receive the flu shot, then you should be heading to your doctor, local pharmacy, or work clinic to get your shot before the end of the month. It is recommended to receive your shot before the end of October because you’re supposed to get your vaccine before any flu activity occurs.
Children that are 6 months through eight years need to receive two doses of the vaccine. Therefore, they should get their first vaccine when the vaccine first comes available. The second dose must be administered at least four weeks after the first. Therefore, it is beneficial to receive the initial dose as soon as possible to ensure that they are vaccinated before the activity starts. A sick child? No one wants that. Not even your apartment neighbor.
What Is Herd Immunity?
We hear all this stuff about how getting our vaccines is good for our health and the health of others. Also, for some, it was just what you grew up knowing. It’s fall, which means it’s time for my flu shot. Or maybe as a child you were just always told that you have to get one, either way, we seem to have some understanding that we should get it. But what is the real reason?
Herd Immunity, also known as community immunity, is when a significant number of the population becomes immune to an infectious disease. When a large number of population is immune that makes it harder for the disease to spread. This immunity is obtained in a large part from vaccination. The major benefit of herd immunity is that it protects those that cannot be vaccinated, like newborns or people with chronic illnesses.
The thing about herd immunity is that it’s different for each illness. There isn’t a magic number of 93.28% of all people who need to get vaccinated in order to prevent an outbreak. For example, the measles need 90-95% of the population to get vaccinated in order to work. However, the flu shot only needs 70% of the population to do so.
It might seem like a nuisance to go out of your way to get your flu shot when you typically are very healthy during the fall and winter months. However, this vaccine isn’t just for you. This vaccine is for the susceptible individuals of our society.
If you get the flu sometimes it can be treated with rest, water, and some lozenges if you’re coughing. However, there are times when the flu is a little more intense and you might want some antiviral medication. Antiviral medication can decrease the amount of time that you’re struggling with the symptoms. One of the most common medications is oseltamivir, which is known as Tamiflu.
What Is Tamiflu?
Tamiflu works by attacking the virus, which stops it from continuing to spread inside your body. Sometimes, Tamiflu can even prevent you from getting the flu. However, it is NOT a substitute for the vaccine. If you are not getting any better or the symptoms seem to worsen while taking Tamiflu you should contact your healthcare provider.
Tamiflu can be taken by oral capsules or oral suspension, which is the liquid version. Personal anecdote here:
When I was in the fourth grade, I was obviously obsessed with Care Bears, as all the cool kids were. I got very sick while on a family vacation in Mexico. The pharmacy gave me amoxicillin and told me that when I shake it, it will change from yellow to pink. However, that never happened. I was so disgusted by this medicine that my mom had to bribe me with a new Care Bear for taking medicine. I couldn’t even do it for the Care Bear. It is safe to say that I have taken capsules ever since then.
Discuss with your healthcare provider which one is right for you. If you’re taking the liquid version, you will use a syringe to pull the needed amount out of the bottle. If your Tamiflu bottle does not come with a bottle adapter already in it, you might want to consider using your own. The bottle adapter will allow you to pull out the liquid steadily without spilling any of it. Or if you’re like me and can’t handle the liquid form, grab the capsules.
Don’t Get Stuck In Bed
Fall in the Midwest is a pretty spectacular season (when it’s not windy and the snow doesn’t come early. So you’ll maybe have a good two weeks if you’re lucky). What I’m trying to say is get your flu shot. Drink lots of water. Wash your hands. WITH SOAP. Cough into your elbow. Stay rested. Do everything that you can this season to stay healthy. You don’t want to be stuck in bed when you could be out admiring the orange and red leaves. Even better yet, don’t make someone else get stuck in bed… or worse. People with compromised immune systems count on you to get your vaccine because they can’t. Let’s build herd immunity for our community!
As always, if you need a research buddy, I am here for you. I want to ensure that you are living your healthiest life. Just because something says one thing, doesn’t mean that it is actually true. I know, talk about a major headache. Please reach out to me via social media, email, or comments if you are feeling overwhelmed and we can tackle the research together!
Spoiler alert: I am not a doctor or professional researcher by any means. I am just here to help you navigate through the millions of articles that will come up in one Google search.