Protect yourself from severe flu season
The 2017-18 flu season has been especially severe across the U.S., with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reporting that the virus is now widespread in every state except Hawaii.
Texas, including Baytown and surrounding communities, has been particularly hard hit during the season that began in November and has worsened rapidly. Eleazar Flores, M.D., a family medicine physician with the Houston Methodist Primary Care Group, said the flu season is far from over, so getting a flu vaccine is still recommended as the best line of defense.
“Anyone who hasn’t already gotten a flu shot should really think about getting it now, because the season is not over and we will continue to see more cases,” Flores said.
The CDC reports that the H3N2 flu strain is the dominant strain this season. It has been linked to more severe illnesses in adults over 65 and children under five. Flores said while coming down with the flu can be dangerous, it may also play a role in causing other serious medical conditions.
“Getting sick with the flu increases the chances of cardiovascular inflammation in some patients, produces more cases of stroke and acute myocardial infarction and can possibly trigger autoimmune conditions in some people,” Flores said, “so getting a flu shot is about protecting your entire body. For average, healthy adults who do not have health conditions that have compromised their immune system, I recommend getting the flu vaccine through March.”
While getting a flu shot is a good preventive measure for everyone, Flores said certain segments of the population that are considered “high risk” of contracting the flu are especially advised to get yearly vaccines. Those at greatest risk include:
- Children younger than five years old
- Adults 65 and older. (Flores recommends a high dose vaccine).
- Pregnant women
- People with chronic health conditions, such as heart, lung or kidney disease, diabetes, immunosuppression or severe forms of anemia
- Health care workers
- People who live with someone who is highly susceptible to flu complications
- HIV patients
- Anyone traveling, especially to the tropics
Even if you have already received the vaccine, Flores says there are steps you should take to help prevent the spread of the virus, including:
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- If you are sick, limit contact with others as much as you can.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Sneeze or cough into your elbow if no tissue is available.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth as much as possible.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs.
Contact Houston Methodist San Jacinto Hospital at 832-556-6936 to schedule an appointment with one of our primary care physicians, or to inquire about getting a flu shot.
About Houston Methodist San Jacinto Hospital
Houston Methodist San Jacinto Hospital has provided Baytown and East Houston with quality medical care since opening its doors in 1948. The hospital has grown throughout the years with the community, providing comprehensive care at all stages of life. As a health care leader, the hospital is proud to have a fully integrated residency program focused on educating and inspiring future practitioners. Today, Houston Methodist San Jacinto provides some of the most advanced and innovative procedures while never losing focus on compassionate and patient-centered care. Houstonmethodist.org/sanjacinto.