NYACK, N.Y. -- Although the cold of winter is still a ways off, it's never too early to start thinking about the season's most unwelcome guest: the flu. Getting the flu can be a miserable experience, as it brings fever, chills and aches. However, getting a flu shot can greatly decrease the chance of contracting the illness during the winter months
"I recommend the influenza vaccine for everyone starting at age 6 months," said Daryl Schiller, Pharmacy Director at Nyack Hospital. "The flu can lead to missed days of school or work and for people in high-risk groups, influenza can be dangerous and even life-threatening."
The most serious complication from the flu is pneumonia, which causes fluid buildup and reduced oxygen supply in the lungs.
"It’s important to get a flu shot every year, because each year’s vaccine is created based on the previous flu season’s circulating influenza strains," said Schiller. "These can change from year to year."
Traditionally the influenza vaccine was offered by injection or by nasal vaccine known as FluMist. Due to the low rate of effectiveness of the nasal vaccine in the past year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is not recommending the nasal spray for this flu season.
Finding a vaccination center isn't difficult, as shots can be administered at a primary care physician’s office or local pharmacy. In most cases, the flu shot is also covered under insurance.
After receiving the shot, some patients feel they get sick, blaming the vaccination for their illness. Schiller is quick to point out that the vaccination doesn't introduce the virus into the body. "I'm often asked whether the flu shot can give you the flu and the answer, simply, is no," he said. "The vaccine does not contain the actual virus and if you get sick after getting the flu shot, it’s merely a coincidence."
Sometimes, the inevitable happens and the flu triumphs. In most cases treating the flu is mostly a matter of managing symptoms through antiviral medication, over the counter relief and rest. In the end, Schiller urges everyone to be proactive. "You can’t control the people around you, and you can’t rely on luck to stay healthy," he said. "The best thing you can do is to protect yourself."
To learn more about flu prevention, visit Nyack Hospital's website .