All of us are seeing and reading and hearing in the news and online that this
year’s influenza – or the “flu” as it is commonly called – season is a
particularly bad one. The primary flu strain this year is AH3N2 – and it’s strong and severe.
If you catch this flu virus – and all flu is caused by a virus – even if you are
healthy prior to catching it, you can expect to be feeling poorly for at least
We recommend strongly that people get a flu shot. Even if you have had flu shots during other years, it will not protect you against AH3N2.
It is not too late to get the shot. This year’s flu season has been called an epidemic by some experts. It is also important to get the flu shot as
soon as possible because it will take several days for the body to react to the
vaccine and produce sufficient antibodies to ward off the flu.
What is the difference between a cold and the flu?
We are asked this question a lot.
A cold, like the flu, is caused by a virus. With a cold one experiences a stuffy, runny nose, and sneezing, as well as a hacking cough that is productive. Usually, with a cold, you don’t have a fever or chills or body aches or headaches – and if you do have them, they are fairly mild.
With the flu you have a fever and your body aches; you are tired, and if you have a cough it is a dry cough and unproductive.
In addition to getting a flu shot, an effective way to protect yourself from the
flu is the good old fashioned hand washing with warm soap and water – for a
minimum of 25 seconds – soon after you have been in public or been around sick
If you do catch the flu, get plenty of bed rest and drink plenty of liquids; for the aches you can take aspirin or a non-aspirin pain reliever – although children should not be given aspirin unless a doctor approves. If you become very sick and have trouble breathing, see a doctor or go to a hospital emergency department immediately.
So get a flu shot. They are available without appointment at Acton Pharmacy,
West Concord Pharmacy, and Keyes Drug (but please call ahead to check
Please note that not everyone should get a flu shot.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides this list of people who should not receive the vaccine:
- People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs.
- People who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination.
- Children younger than six months of age (influenza vaccine is not approved for this age group).
- People who have a moderate-to-severe illness with a fever (they should wait until they recover to get vaccinated).
- People with a history of Guillain–Barré Syndrome (a severe illness, also called GBS) who got the illness after receiving the flu shot in a previous year.
If you do catch the flu, make sure you rest, maximize fluids, get medical attention if it is needed, and don’t go out and about where you can spread it.
And remember, spring is but a couple of months away.