“Sick season” is here and large blocks of training for next years races are just around the corner. The flu is always the major concern during this time of year. We checked in with Dr. Rankin to find out more about it. Don’t let the flu derail your training!
OCA: What is flu?
JR: The flu is a viral illness that is caused by one of several strains of influenza virus. It is spread by respiratory droplets and is characterized by the rapid development of cough, runny nose, sore throat, usually significant fever, and generalized body aches.
OCA: How does flu vaccine work?
JR: They work by causing your body’s immune system to identify the flu virus which causes your body to develop antibodies to the virus. Then when you are exposed to influenza, antibodies to the virus are already present which prevent you from getting sick.
OCA: Who should get a flu shot?
JR: Flu vaccines, in injectable form or nasal mist form, are recommended for everyone age 6 months and older. People with diseases or conditions that make them more susceptible to flu-related complications are highly encouraged to get vaccinated. One example of this group would be those with asthma.
OCA: Who shouldn’t get a flu shot?
JR: Certainly anyone with a history of a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to the flu vaccine shouldn’t get it. Then the contraindications depend on what type of flu vaccine you’re offered. With respect to the nasal vaccine (live attenuated influenza vaccine), it is not recommended for pregnant women, patients with a history of asthma, patients who are immunosuppressed, or adults with an egg allergy of any severity. With regard to the inactivated vaccine (typical flu shot), people with a severe egg allergy or a history of Guillian-Barré syndrome within six weeks following an influenza vaccination shouldn’t get it. But the recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV) can be given to patients with egg allergy as it does not contain any egg protein.
OCA: When should I get a flu shot?
JR: It’s generally recommended to get immunized as soon as vaccine is available, preferably by October. I got mine on October 1st. Keep in mind; it takes approximately 2 weeks for your body to mount an immune response to the vaccine. Flu vaccination is also recommended throughout the flu season.
OCA: Where can I get a flu shot?
JR: It’s readily available at your doctor’s office as well as some pharmacies, schools, & other health facilities. Some employers also hold immunization clinics for their employees.