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Ask a Doc: The Flu

Flu Season Ahead Warning Sign

The Boca Grande Health Clinic is honored to bring back a favorite Boca Beacon column started in the early 2000s by Dr. Hank Wright, called “Curbstone Consult.” For 17 years, Dr. Wright, who passed in 2016, was the only doctor at the Clinic. The column resulted from the innocent questions people would ask when he and his wife were out and about town. We’ll call today’s version “Ask a Doc” and strive to answer the questions our Clinic doctors hear the most. Please send questions to the Clinic at https://www.bghc.org/contact or to the Boca Beacon and we will answer them monthly.

In this instalment, Raymond A. James, D.O. answers questions about the flu.

Why should I get a flu shot?

Following guidance by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we recommend that everyone get a flu shot. Flu is a serious virus, especially for those aged 65 and older. According to the CDC, millions of people get flu every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands to tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year.

Last year saw a record-low number of flu cases, thanks in large part to COVID-19 precautions like widespread mask wearing, remote work and school, and physical distancing. With those precautions waning, the upcoming flu season could be severe.

It’s been proven that you’re in better shape to fight off the flu if you get the vaccine. By getting vaccinated against the flu, you help protect the people around you. The CDC recommends annual flu vaccination in October when flu season starts because it takes about two weeks for immunity to develop and gives good protection to the end of flu season in May. A higher dose vaccine is automatically given to patients over 65 because their immune system needs more stimulation to create adequate antibodies. Be sure to get your vaccination before you travel.

Will getting a flu shot interfere with my COVID-19 vaccination?

Health experts at the CDC agree that it’s fine to get a flu shot if you are vaccinated against COVID-19. It’s even okay to get a flu shot along with a COVID-19 shot.

Can I get a flu shot at the Clinic?

The Clinic will run drive-thru flu clinics again this year, most likely beginning late October or early November. Most local pharmacies and all national drug stores and quick clinics offer flu shots. If you are a resident who is returning to the Island, don’t wait until you get here; it’s a good idea to get your flu shot before you travel back. Stay tuned to bghc.org for more information on flu clinics and how to schedule your shot.

6 tips to avoid the flu

The tips below are provided by the CDC as actions you can take to protect yourself and others from flu and help stop the spread of germs.

  1. Avoid close contact. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
  2. Stay home when you are sick. If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. This will help prevent spreading your illness to others.
  3. Cover your mouth and nose. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. Flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk.
  4. Clean your hands. Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs can be spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
  6. Practice other good health habits. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

About the Author

Dr. James joined the Clinic in March 2018. A graduate of Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine, he completed his residency at Metropolitan Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is board certified in emergency medicine and has been awarded fellowship status by the American College of Emergency Physicians. Throughout his medical career, Dr. James […]

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