Health officials suggest getting flu shot before the end of October


TAYLOR COUNTY—The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (WV DHHR) suggests that residents arm themselves against the flu this fall, as the state prepares to move into flu season.

Flu season usually occurs between November and March, but some cases have been known to fall outside of that time frame. Peak flu season typically hits in December and carries on until February.

Influenza, or the flu virus, attacks the lungs, nose and throat. Young children, older adults, pregnant women and those with chronic diseases or weak immune systems are at higher risk of infection.

With it, the flu brings fever, cough, sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Vomiting and diarrhea may also occur in some cases.

And while the flu can be treated primarily with rest, increased fluid intake and over-the-counter medications to alleviate symptoms, making sure to arm yourself against the virus is your best bet.

Health officials suggest that anyone six months of age or older should get vaccinated to not only protect themselves but others in the community.

“With COVID-19 continuing to circulate and affect West Virginians, the flu shot not only helps protect you and your family, but also those in our most vulnerable population, including young children, pregnant women, adults 65-years and older, as well as those with chronic health conditions,” said Dr. Ayne Amjad, Acting State Health Officer and Commissioner of DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health. “We all need to make a commitment to protect ourselves and our loved ones.”

While receiving a flu vaccination does not mean that individuals will be immune from contracting the virus, the CDC has noted that studies have shown that those who receive the vaccine have reduced severity of the illness.

The WV DHHR says that best time to get vaccinated is before the end of October, but even if individuals don’t get their flu shot before the end of October, they may still get vaccinated through fall and winter.

Vaccinations are given in two different forms via nasal spray and an injectable serum. 

According to the CDC, the nasal sprays are quadrivalent, meaning they are designed to fight off four flu viruses, including influenza A (H1N1, influenza A (H3N2) and two influenza B viruses. The spray consists of a live but weakened strain of the virus.

Injectable flu vaccines, more commonly referred to as a flu shot, are also quadrivalent and can be comprised of inactivated viruses, less potent strains of virus or even without influenza viruses at all.

Individuals should speak with their health care providers to assess which vaccine would be best.

For those who wish to skip the vaccine, flu prevention techniques, such as frequent hand washing, cleaning and disinfecting contaminated surfaces and objects, making sure to cover your coughs and sneezes and staying home when sick can help curb the spread of influenza.

However, should and individual fall victim to the flu and its symptoms, a quick trip to their personal health care provider can get them back on the right track. 

While most people with flu have mild illness and do not need medical care, for severe cases prescription medications called antiviral drugs can be prescribed by a health care provider.

Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They also can prevent serious flu complications, like pneumonia, when treatment is started early.

According to the CDC, studies show that flu antiviral drugs work best for treatments when they are started within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms. However, starting them later can still be helpful, especially if the sick person has a higher-risk health condition or is very sick from the flu.

Those wishing to undergo vaccination have multiple avenues available to them locally, including visiting their health care provider, a quick trip to a local pharmacy or a stop by the Grafton-Taylor County Health Department.

To locate a flu vaccine, please visit vaccines.gov to select the best-fit vaccine option. For more information about the flu, please visit www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/flushot.htm.

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