The flu is a contagious respiratory illness that can cause mild to severe illness, and at times may lead to death. The best way to prevent influenza is to be vaccinated each year.
The CDC recommends everyone over the age of 6 months receive the flu vaccine. The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season.
“Everyone is at risk for contracting influenza,” Johnson said. “The best way to protect yourself and others is to receive the vaccine.”
The ideal time to receive the flu vaccine is now so that immunity remains high through the season. The flu season in our area is from November to April.
“Unlike a regular cold, the flu comes on suddenly,” Dr. Alan Johnson, Snoqualmie Ridge Medical Clinic physician, said. “Symptoms include fever, sore throat, dry cough, headache, dizziness and general body aches.”
Getting the vaccine is especially important for people at higher risk of developing serious complications from the flu, including pregnant women, children younger than two years old, people 65 years and older and those with certain chronic medical conditions.
Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. Using good health habits can also help prevent spreading the flu to others.
“Along with getting your flu shot, your best defense against the flu is to wash your hands frequently, cover your cough and stay home when you’re sick,” Johnson said. “Also avoid touching your face in case you have come in contact with something contaminated with the virus, like shopping carts, where the virus can live up to 6 hours.”
If you develop flu-like symptoms, there are prescription antiviral drugs, such as Tamiflu, that can make your illness milder and shorten the time you are sick.
“If you think you have the flu, see your doctor right away,” said Johnson. “It is treatable for the first two or three days only. If you wait, the virus goes through your system and it can take up to 3 weeks to recover.”
Flu vaccines are provided at two locations:
Snoqualmie Ridge Medical Clinic at 35020 SE Kinsey St., Snoqualmie. Clinic hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Saturdays. Call 425-396-7682.
Snoqualmie Valley Hospital Clinic at 9801 Frontier Ave SE, Snoqualmie. Clinic hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Call 425-831-2313.
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