Flu season is upon us, and so is the annual ritual of your mother asking, "Did you get your flu shot?"
Two years ago, the flu swept through the northeast parts of the United States later in the year, around March. But this year, like in 2017, the flu season seems to be arriving just about on time — now. It's already proven deadly in the northeast section of the country. In Pennsylvania, 18 people have died. In New Jersey, one person has died.
Even if you haven't gotten that flu shot yet, one of the Delaware Valley's clinical care leaders says it's not too late. Dr. Robyn Baron, medical director of Temple University Health System's Readycare division, talked influenza with NBC10.
So the flu shot is still available for those who haven't gotten one yet?
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Absolutely. It's available. Immunizations are usually (available) up to March 30. Those people at risk, they definitely want to immunize.
What are the most vulnerable populations?
The extremes of age: the elderly and the very young ones. Immunizations are given now at six months of age, in split doses. In general, it also includes those with lung issues, and diabetics.
Does that mean that young, healthy people have nothing to worry about?
No. For young people, think of it in the perspective of college-age kids in a dorm situation, in close contact, with many other people. In that situation, that predisposes them to something contagious like influenza.
Baron said the flu vaccine doesn't guarantee immunity to the common influenza strains, but she said it definitely gives people a big leg up on those who don't receive it. The immunization, she said, takes about two weeks to completely take hold. So there is the chance that a person could get the flu in that two-week window. And of course, there are the less common mutations that pop up every year.
Beyond the flu shot, what's some simple ways to lower the chance of contagion in the office, school and home?
One thing we should do every time we come into the office, before you sit at your desk or cubicle, clean everything down: the keyboard, the telephone, the mouse. You should always be thinking about good hand washing, especially if you’re coughing or touching a lot of door handles. You can’t live in a bubble, but there are small things to do to transmit back and forth.