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September 24, 2015

Montefiore Providers Discuss the Latest Tips for Flu Prevention

NEW  YORK (September 24, 2015) Headlines of recent epidemics, such as Ebola and Legionnaires, have placed infectious diseases on the forefront of the collective conscience. However, one global infectious disease that does not raise as many red flags yet claims thousands of lives every year is the flu. This contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses is responsible for millions of missed days of school and work annually. To get ahead of the upcoming flu season, health care providers at Montefiore Health System are encouraging flu vaccination and education on flu facts.

“The flu shot can save lives,” said Brian Currie M.D., vice president and medical director for research, Montefiore Health System and professor of clinical medicine and of clinical epidemiology and population health, Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “We continue to strongly encourage everyone to get their flu shot early, ideally before the season starts. Given that the vaccine takes 10-14 days to provide protection, now is the time to get vaccinated.”

The flu season can start as early as mid-September and usually runs for about 12 to 15 weeks.

Fact 1: The flu is a major public health problem. The flu virus’s ability to mutate each year and spread, among even seemingly healthy people, makes it difficult to eradicate. Our best defense is to prevent new cases by widespread flu vaccination tailored to this year’s strain.

Fact 2: Over six months of age?  Time for a vaccine! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, everyone older than six months should receive flu immunizations this season. Even healthy people can have serious complications from the flu and spread the flu virus. The flu is especially dangerous for the most vulnerable among us including the very young, the very old, the chronically ill and pregnant women. 

Fact 3:  Egg-allergic? Most doctor’s offices and local pharmacies can provide a quadrivalent vaccine—the most comprehensive type of immunization. The egg-free Flublok vaccine is available for people with egg-allergies. It does not contain any egg proteins, antibiotics or preservatives, and is latex-free.

Fact 4:  The flu vaccine cannot cause the flu. For those worried that the flu vaccine might give them the flu, they can rest assured this is a fallacy. Sometimes people experience post flu shot reactions caused by the immune system generating a protective response. The body is reacting and learning how to fight the flu—it is nowhere close to the severity of the actual flu and should not last more than a day.