It is important for everyone to get a flu shot, but it does not always provide complete protection. "If you do get the flu, there are medicines available that may shorten how long you are sick. If you are exposed to the flu, these medicines may prevent you from getting sick. The medications are Relenza and Tamiflu, and they can make a difference when they are prescribed," says William Klepack, MD, Medical Director at the Tompkins County Health Department.
While the flu vaccine helps, early indications tell us it is working less well this year. The flu is widespread, and many people are coming to doctor's offices with flu symptoms, including some who were vaccinated this season. Some individuals are hospitalized due to flu.
Dr. Klepack urges residents to see a health care provider as soon as possible:
- If you are coming down with the flu. The medication should be started within 2 days of getting sick.
- If you are exposed to the flu and not vaccinated (and in some cases even if you are vaccinated). You should strongly consider the medication if you care for elderly, the very young, or persons with chronic illness.
Your healthcare practitioner is your best source for advice on these medications.
"The sooner you start taking an anti-flu medication, the better it will work," Dr. Klepack states, adding, "and it's still not too late to get a flu shot. It can make flu milder and, hopefully, it will prevent it."
To learn more about the flu, symptoms and prevention, click here: http://tompkinscountyny.gov/health/flu/index
The Tompkins County Health Department is your partner for a healthy community. Find us online at TompkinsCountyNY.gov/health, and follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/TompkinsPublicHealth and on Twitter at @TompkinsHealth.