Medjet Health Update: The Flu Is Upon Us

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By: John Gobbels, MedjetAssist VP/COO

Believe it or not, it is that time of year again when people start disappearing from the water cooler. Your co-worker’s daughter has the flu, so now you have been exposed. And so it begins … flu season. How can you best prepare for what this flu season may bring? Here are a few tips that may help you stay flu-free this time around:

What can I do to protect myself from the flu this season?

The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone six months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease. People should begin getting vaccinated soon after flu vaccine becomes available as it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the flu.

Will this season’s vaccine be a good match for circulating viruses?

It’s not possible to predict with certainty what viruses will circulate during the upcoming season or whether the vaccine will be a good match for circulating viruses. Flu viruses change constantly (called “drift”). They can change from one season to the next or they can even change within the course of one flu season. However, the most recent CDC information on what viruses are circulating and how similar they are to the vaccine’s viruses was published in the report listed below:

http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6436a4.htm

How can I protect my family and loved ones from the flu?

Encourage your loved ones to get vaccinated. Vaccination is especially important for people at high risk for serious flu complications and their close contacts. Also, if you have a loved one who is at high risk of flu complications and who develops flu symptoms, encourage him or her to get a medical evaluation, as he or she might need treatment with influenza antiviral drugs. The CDC recommends that people who are at high risk for serious flu complications who get the flu be treated with influenza antiviral drugs as quickly as possible. People who are not at high risk for serious flu complications who get the flu may be treated with influenza antiviral drugs at their doctor’s discretion. Children between six months and eight years of age may need two doses of flu vaccine to be fully protected from the flu, and these doses should be given at least four weeks apart. Your child’s doctor or other health care professional can tell you whether your child needs two doses.

In addition to getting vaccinated, you and your loved ones can take everyday preventive actions:

Take preventive actions to stop the spread of germs

  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you are sick with flu-like illness, the CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.) You should not be traveling!
  • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.

What kind of vaccines are available in the United States for 2015-2016?

A number of different private sector vaccine manufacturers produce flu vaccine for use in the United States. This season both trivalent (three component) and quadrivalent (four component) influenza vaccines will be available. Different routes of administration are available for flu vaccines, including intramuscular, intradermal, jet injector and nasal spray vaccine.

This season:

  • Intramuscular (IM) vaccines will be available in both trivalent and quadrivalent formulations. (High-dose vaccines, which are IM vaccines, will all be trivalent this season.)
  • For people who are 18 through 64 years old, a jet injector can be used for delivery of one particular trivalent flu vaccine (AFLURIA® by bioCSL Inc.).
  • Nasal spray vaccines will all be quadrivalent this season.
  • Intradermal vaccines will all be quadrivalent.

Remember, as a Medjet member you have a team of experts standing ready to help in the event of an illness or injury.

Travel safe, travel smart and always carry your Medjet card!

www.cdc.gov/flu