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Your Best Defense is Still a Flu Shot

December 27, 2012

Michelle Holmgren, Public Affairs & Community Relations Specialist
(Office) 413-967-2296 (Cell) 413-237-6743

Your best defense is still a flu shot
Ware, MA (December 27, 2012) - It may seem too late in the season to worry about the flu vaccine, but health officials say that's not true.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that they are seeing an early flu season,” said Rosario M. Nelson, NP-C. Family Nurse Practitioner, at Quabbin Adult Medicine, located at 95 Sargent Street in Belchertown.

As of mid-December, the CDC reports that influenza levels are currently increasing across the country. More specifically, the CDC noted that Massachusetts is among the twenty-nine states that are currently reporting widespread flu activity.

“We are encouraging people who have not yet been vaccinated to get a flu shot now,” said Nelson. “The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses. Once vaccinated, it takes about 2 weeks for the body’s immune response to fully kick in.”

Influenza, or "the flu," is a contagious viral infection of the nose, throat, and lungs which is associated, on average, with more than 200,000 hospitalizations due to flu related complications and thousands of deaths every year in the United States.

“There are certain people who are at high-risk of developing serious flu-related complications,” notes Nelson, “Including pregnant women, children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old, people 65 years of age and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease.”

“Generally, the flu season typically peaks in February and can last as late as May,” said Nelson. People are contagious a day before symptoms appear and up to a week after getting sick,” said Nelson.
“We all know someone who says they are not getting a flu shot because the last time they did, they got flu,” said Nelson. “That doesn't happen.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the shot does contain the actual flu virus, but those viruses are killed during the manufacturing process, meaning it just can't give you the flu. The vaccine is double-checked to make sure no live virus survives and tested to make sure they are safe.
“There are some people who should not get a flu vaccine without first consulting with their health care provider,” said Nelson. “They include people who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs, people who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination and children younger than 6 months of age; the influenza vaccine is not approved for this age group. If you have a moderate-to-severe illness with a fever you should wait until you recover to get vaccinated,” said Nelson. “People with a history of Guillain–Barré Syndrome should generally not receive vaccine and should talk to their health care provider; they will help you decide whether the vaccine is recommended for you.”

“Over the years, hundreds of millions of Americans have received flu vaccines safely.” said Nelson. “Once vaccinated, you can enjoy the New Year knowing that you have taken the single best step to protect yourself and your loved ones against the flu.”

Dr. Muhammad Gul, Dr. Ronald Beauzile, Dr. Anuja Garg, and Dr. Mario Lysse, and Nurse Practitioners Suzanne Dabakis Choquette, FNP and Rosario Nelson, FNP,
serve as health care providers at Baystate Medical Practices – Quabbin Adult Medicine and are presently accepting new patients. For more information or to make an appointment, call Quabbin Adult Medicine in Ware at 413-967-2324 and at 95 Sargent Street in Belchertown at 413-323-7212.