January 5, 2012

New Year Doesn’t Mean End Of Flu Season

Don't let the new year trick you into thinking that flu season is over. According to an expert at Baylor College of Medicine, flu season is just starting and those who have not yet been vaccinated should still do so.

"There is still time to get vaccinated before flu season peaks in February," said Dr. Paul Glezen, professor of molecular virology and microbiology at BCM.

Nasal spray

Glezen recommends that healthy individuals between the ages of 2 and 49 get the influenza vaccine in the form of the nasal spray. The nasal spray contains live, attenuated virus and activates quicker. The shot takes about two weeks before the vaccine is effective, he said.

For those who start to feel flu symptoms before they have the opportunity to get vaccinated or for those who had the shot and are exposed to the flu within the first two weeks, Glezen recommends taking the antiviral medication Tamiflu immediately. This will reduce complications from the flu and the risk of spreading the virus to others.

This year's flu vaccine covers influenza B, H1N1 and H3N2. Main flu activity so far this year has been the H3N2 virus, Glezen said.

Holiday travel helps spread flu

Areas that have been hit hardest so far by flu include the southeast and mountain states such as Colorado, Glezen said. But because so many people traveled over the holidays, flu activity could start to spread to other regions.

"The seasonal flu usually picks up a few weeks after school resumes from the winter holidays, so, in fact, this is an important time to get vaccinated," he emphasized.

Flu season usually ends by the end of March.


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