Officials with the Atlantic Medical Center (AMC) say they are offering influenza vaccines Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8:30 am and 11:00 am and 1:30 pm and 4:00 pm. There is no need to make an appointment. It takes about two weeks for influenza vaccine to provide full protection. With the holidays coming up quickly, it is best to get an influenza vaccine by early November to provide protection during the holiday gatherings with larger groups, where influenza is easily spread.
The two best ways to protect yourself, and those around you, from influenza are to get vaccinated and to practice good hand washing. Getting vaccinated not only protects you, but also those around you who may be too young (under 6 months) or have a medical condition that prevents them from being vaccinated.
There are four strains, or types, of the flu that typically hit the Midwest during flu season — two types of Influenza A and two types of Influenza B. Again this year there is a vaccine that has all four strains (types) of the flu virus in it (Quadrivalent—two A strains and two B strains), to provide even greater protection against influenza. Atlantic Medical Center will have this vaccine available. They will also be offering the High Dose flu vaccine for 65 years of age and older.
Vaccines also vary by age group, with different doses for different patient groups. The Atlantic Medical Center has the correct doses available for all age groups, including flu mist, which can be used by patients from 2 – 49 years of age. Patients can also receive Pneumonia, Tetanus with whooping cough (Tdap), and Shingles vaccines when they come in for an influenza vaccine.
The seasonal flu (influenza) is a serious disease caused by the Influenza virus. Some common symptoms of the flu are fever, cough, shaking chills, body aches, and extreme weakness. The influenza disease may last for a couple of weeks.
There is a common misconception that the “stomach flu” is the flu. That is incorrect! The “stomach flu” that everyone speaks of is caused by a different type of virus (most commonly Norovirus). The “stomach flu” only last a few days and is associated with vomiting and diarrhea.
Some people are more susceptible for complications from the Influenza virus:
- Children 6 months-59 months (4 years 11 months)
- All people aged 50 years and older
- People who have chronic pulmonary (including asthma), cardiovascular, renal, hepatic, neurological, hematologic ,or metabolic disorders
- Immunosuppressed people
- Pregnant women
- Residents of Long-Term Care or Nursing Home facilities
- People who are morbidly obese
- American Indians/Alaska Natives
Any of the groups of people listed above should not wait to get their flu shot; they need to be protected as soon as possible. Tragically there are many infants, children, teens, and elderly people who die from the flu virus every year! Children younger than two years of age are at particularly high risk for hospitalization due to complications of influenza.
The Influenza virus is EXTREMELY contagious!!! Influenza viruses are thought to spread mainly from person to person through droplets. This happens when a person infected with Influenza coughs, sneezes, or talks. Flu viruses also may spread when people touch something with flu virus on it (shopping cart, door knob, counter top, or drinking fountain) and then touch their mouth, eyes, or nose. Many other viruses spread these ways too. People infected with flu may be able to infect others beginning two days before symptoms develop and five to seven days after becoming sick. That means you may be able to spread the flu to someone else even before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Young children, those who are severely ill, and those who have severely weakened immune systems may be able to infect others for longer than five to seven days.
People who have the flu often feel some or all of these signs and symptoms:
•Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
•Runny or stuffy nose
•Muscle or body aches
•Fatigue (very tired)
•Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.
Ways to help protect yourself from Influenza:
Avoid close contact with sick people.
If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.
For more information, please contact the Atlantic Medical Center Immunization Nurses at 712-243-2850.