With the influenza season just getting under way in Southern California, Scripps Clinic pediatrician Erik Hogen, MD, says there’s no better time than now to get a flu shot.
“The best way to protect yourself from the influenza virus is to get vaccinated,” said Dr. Hogen, who is chairman of the Scripps Medical Foundation Vaccination Committee. “Getting a shot now will give your body the best chance of fighting off infection as the virus spreads throughout our community in the coming months.”
Influenza can also be deadly. Last year, 342 people died from the flu in San Diego County while the illness killed 80,000 nationwide.
Flu shots are now available widely across San Diego County, including at the 12 same-day, walk-in Scripps HealthExpress clinics which are open to all adults and children and staffed by Scripps Clinic Medical Group and Scripps Coastal Medical Group.
Because there are many different flu viruses and they constantly change, this year’s vaccine is designed to cover the three strains expected to be the most common in circulation during the 2018-19 influenza season: Influenza A (H1N1), Influenza A (H3N2) and Influenza B (Victoria).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend annual flu vaccination for everyone 6 months or older. Those most at-risk of developing flu-related complications include people 65 years and older; children under the age of 2; pregnant women; and people with chronic conditions such as asthma, heart disease, neurological conditions, blood disorders, weakened immune systems and morbid obesity.
Once vaccinated, it takes about two weeks for enough antibodies to build up in the body to develop immunity.
Scripps physicians also recommend these other practices during flu season:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Watch out for flu symptoms, which can include a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue.
- Stay away from sick people.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes.
- If you become sick, stay home from work and school, and avoid contact with others. The CDC recommends staying home for a least 24 hours after a fever is gone without using fever-reducing medicine.
- Avoid the emergency room unless you are suffering from more serious flu symptoms, such as difficulty breathing or shortness of breath; chest or abdomen pain or pressure; sudden dizziness; confusion; severe or persistent vomiting; or flu symptoms that improve, but then return with fever and a worse cough.
- For children, seek emergency medical help if they are breathing fast or are having trouble breathing; have bluish skin color; aren’t drinking enough fluids; aren’t waking up or interacting; are so irritable they don’t want to be held; have a fever with a rash; aren’t able to eat, don’t shed tears when crying; have significantly fewer wet diapers than normal; or have flu symptoms improve but then return with fever and a worse cough.
- Check with your doctor to see if you should be treated with an antiviral drug.
Anyone can walk in to a HealthExpress location to receive care for the flu or can hold a place in line by dialing 858-554-7439 to speak with a triage nurse or by visiting www.scrippshealthexpress.com.
Scripps patients can call 1-800-SCRIPPS (1-800-727-4777) to schedule a visit with their physician.
Learn more about Scripps Health, a nonprofit integrated health system in San Diego, Calif.