Health officials urge preparedness for potentially bad flu season
When predicting our flu season in the U.S., health experts look to our mates in Australia.
"They had a very high activity this season this year, and their season started just a little bit earlier than what it normally does," said Dr. Korri Phillips of Cotton O'Neil Express Care's Midtown Topeka location.
With that in mind, Dr. Phillips says now is the time to get your flu shot.
"The vaccines aren't to keep us from getting sick entirely," she said. "The vaccines are so we have what we call herd immunity which means a greater amount of us are less likely to be sick when we get exposed to the virus. We also know that people that get their vaccines get much less of a flu."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made a few changes this year to boost the vaccines. All regular dose flu shots will contain four influenza strains, rather than three; and they were not produced using eggs, reducing risk for people with egg allergies.
For the first time, the CDC also offered guidance on what might be vaccinating too early. If you got your shot in July or August, they say, you might have less protection. In part, Dr. Phillips says, that's because you likely got last year's formula, which doesn't have the strains expected to be worst this season.
"Viruses change so quickly which is why it has to be changed every year to be effective," she said.
What doesn't change are the good habits that can keep not only the flu but all those seasonal viruses at bay.
"Making sure we're resting well, eating well, exercising, and then also making sure we're starting into our good hand washing, which we should always be doing," she said.
As for articles on social media claiming things like vitamin D work just as well as the flu vaccine, Dr. Phillips says don't buy it.
"It may be that it boosts your immunity and makes you a little bit less likely to get sick, but it's not going to be the best way to keep yourself from being sick from the flu," she said.
The flu vaccine is recommended for most everyone ages six months and older. Children getting the vaccine for the first time will need two doses.
Area health organizations have several immunization opportunities available.
Public walk-in clinics:
10am-6pm M-F; Noon-3pm Sat-Sun
Cotton O’Neil Express Care Corporate View, Cotton O’Neil Express Care Midtown, Cotton O’Neil Express Care Urish, Cotton O’Neil Express Care Croco and Cotton O’Neil Express Care North
Drive-Thru clinic (Cotton O'Neil patients ages 19+ only)
Stormont Vail Surgery parking, SW 10th/Garfield
Walk-in clinic for Cotton O'Neil Pediatrics Gage patients
1-6pm, Oct. 10, Oct. 24
4100 SW 15th St.
Public walk-in clinic
8am-5pm M-F; Noon-2pm Sat-Sun
ReadyCare at Brewster clinic, 1101 SW 29th St.
Walk-in clinics (St. Francis patients only)
Family Medicine at Mission Woods
2835 SW Mission Woods Drive
5-7pm, Oct. 16, Oct. 30, Nov. 13
Family Medicine at Fleming Place
1119 SW Gage Blvd.
1-4pm Oct. 9, Oct. 16
Monday, Thursday, Friday
8:00 am - 4:00 pm
10:00 am - 6:00 pm
8:00 am - 11:00 am
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm