Avoiding the flu

Sign up to get your flu vaccine in October.

The influenza virus, often referred to as the flu, can take you out of action for about three to five days. You’ll feel feverish and fatigued and, frequently, a cough accompanies the other symptoms. If you have other health issues, the flu can even land you in the hospital.

Flu is spread on respiratory droplets. It most effectively spreads through the air, but it can be transmitted via high touch objects such as door knobs, phones and table tops. We can limit the airborne spread simply by being courteous. For example, a co-worker can cough into a tissue, or the crook of his or her elbow. Hand-spread virus needs to find a home in the nose, mouth or eye mucosal surfaces, or the wet area surrounding these areas, to develop into something more serious. Frequent hand washing helps prevent the virus from setting up house in your body.

Another effective means of prevention is to boost your immunity to the flu with vaccination. Timing is important. You wish to have immunity in time for the holidays, when indoor crowding usually starts, yet keep the time-limited vaccination induced immunity through prime time. In recent years, this is around March. In fact, we in the Medical Office observed flu-like illness into June. Nationally, there was a blip rivaling that of the peak season in April.

As always, we will roll out flu vaccine to those at high risk first. After that, we invite the general employee population to receive a vaccination. We will be administering the Sanofli Adult Seasonal Flu Vaccine, which is single strength.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) plans to do an analysis of a vaccine with quadruple strength efficacy in 2012 when it has two seasons of widespread use. The option was new last season. The CDC recognizes the availability of a quadruple strength dose for those over 65 years and older due to the decreased likelihood of an immune response with single strength vaccine.

Sign up for flu vaccine is open for the high risk category on Oct. 4. General vaccination sign up is Oct. 11 and 14. You must sign up in order to receive your vaccine through the Fermilab Medical Office. With some prevention effort, you can evade the flu.

—Dr. Brian Savazas