December 3, 2018 

Get your flu vaccine!It’s time for the flu vaccine. Influenza – for anyone who has had “the flu” you are aware that it is not just a bad cold. Colds are usually milder than flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as bacterial infections, or hospitalizations.

Sinus and ear infections are examples of moderate complications from flu, while pneumonia is a serious flu complication that can result from either influenza virus infection alone or from a co-infection of the flu virus and bacteria. Other possible serious complications triggered by flu can include inflammation of the heart (myocarditis), brain (encephalitis) or muscle tissues (myositis, rhabdomyolysis) and multi-organ failure (for example, respiratory and kidney failure). Flu virus infection of the respiratory tract can trigger an extreme inflammatory response in the body and can lead to sepsis, the body’s life-threatening response to infection. Flu also can make chronic medical problems worse.

Individuals at high risk of complications from influenza include those 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), pregnant women and children younger than 5 years, but especially those younger than 2 years old.

Last year the CDC reports there were 49 million people with systemic illness, 23 million medical visits, 960,000 hospitalizations and 79,000 deaths. There were 183 pediatric deaths and many were in previously healthy children that were unvaccinated. It is estimated that the flu costs the US economy 10.4 billion dollars annually!

In addition to the individual costs of influenza – there is the cost to employers for time out of work individually and if spreads through the office group.

Therefore, many employers are requiring flu vaccine for this reason.

The best protection from the flu is to have the flu vaccine. The vaccine reduces flu related illness and complications that can result in hospitalizations or even death. The vaccine is universally recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and American Academy of Family Physicians for everyone 6 months old and older for whom it is not contraindicated.

Getting the flu vaccine, most importantly protects the individual who gets the vaccine, but the more people in a community who are protected the less chance flu will spread through the community and affect the highest risk populations – young children, the elderly and anyone who is immunosuppressed.

Please get your flu vaccine and work vigilantly to immunize all of your patients that are eligible and wash your hands often!


Tessa Lafortune-Greenberg, MD
NHMS President