2007-10-19 / Columnists

Notes From A Medical Practice

From The Offices Of The Queens-Long Island Medical Group Commentary by Sandra R. Nurse, MD Medical Director

Sandra R. Nurse, MD Sandra R. Nurse, MD The winter season is rapidly approaching, an annual flu shot is recommended by most physicians. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the best time to get vaccinated is during the months of October through December.

The flu season can begin as early as October and last until May of the next year. The flu viruses cause mild to severe, highly contagious respiratory illnesses, which can be fatal in highrisk populations.

The virus most commonly spreads from person to person, through coughing or sneezing. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something contaminated by the flu virus and then touching their mouth or nose. Most adults are able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to 5 days after becoming sick. This means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else, before you even know that you are sick.

Symptoms of flu include: high fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and muscle aches. Stomach symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, also can occur, but are more common in children than adults. The flu can also be extremely dangerous for the elderly population and other high-risk groups.

The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get a flu vaccination each year. The flu shot is an inactivated vaccine (containing "killed" virus). The vaccine contains three influenza viruses- one A (H3N2) virus, one A (H1N1) virus, and one B virus. The viruses in the vaccine change each year, based on international surveillance and scientists' estimations about which types and strains of viruses will circulate in a given year.

In general, anyone who wants to reduce their chances of getting the flu should be vaccinated. People at high risk for complications from the flu include: children from age six months to five years; pregnant women; people 50 years of age and older; people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions; people who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities; and people who live with, or care for, those at high risk for complications from flu, including out-ofhome caregivers for children less than 6 months of age, and healthcare workers.

It has been my experience as a medical director that it is very important to give out flu shots prior to the peak of the flu season, as the flu can have negative implications, especially if it goes untreated. It is important that people receive the vaccine at the right time and become aware of how you can contract the flu. Taking precautions and getting an annual flu shot is the best way to prevent getting the flu.

While getting a flu shot is generally a good idea, you should consult a physician prior to being vaccinated.

Every year in the United States, on average, 5 to 20 percent of the population gets the flu; more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications, and about 36,000 cases are fatal.

Schedule an appointment for your flu shot at the Queens Long Island Medical Group Rockaway Medical Office located at 29-15 Far Rockaway Boulevard, Far Rockaway NY 11691. The more than 350 physicians of the Queens Long Island Medical Group are here to treat all of your health care needs.

For more information, visit us on the web at QLIMG.com or call us at 877- 75Q-LIMG (877-757-5464).

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