Health Mart Pharmacies: Influenza

The flu virus can linger in the air for as long as three hours. In close quarters, conditions are ripe for the spread of the virus. That explains why the highest incidence of the flu is in 5- to 14-year-olds, who spend much of their time in school, in close contact with their classmates. The most serious complications occur in older adults, however.

Mike Johnson with Art City Health Mart Pharmacy in Springville talks about what you need to know about the flu

Who should get vaccinated:

• people aged 65 or older

• residents of nursing homes and other facilities that provide care for chronically ill persons

• people over the age of 6 months, including pregnant women, who have certain underlying medical conditions that required hospitalization or regular doctors’ visits during the preceding year. These conditions include:

o asthma, anemia, metabolic disease such as diabetes, or heart, lung or kidney disease

o impaired immune system due to HIV infection, treatment with drugs such as long-term steroids, or cancer treatment with radiation or chemotherapy

• children and teenagers (6 months to 18 years) who must take aspirin regularly

Because it takes the immune system about six to eight weeks to respond to vaccination, the best time to get the flu vaccine is mid-October to mid-November, before the December-to-March U.S. flu season hits.

The vaccine should be repeated annually, since the immunity is believed to last only about a year, and because the vaccine’s composition changes each year based on the flu strains scientists expect to be most common.

Who Should Not Get the Vaccinated –

Some people–but not many–should avoid the flu shot. People allergic to eggs and people with certain other allergies and medical problems like bronchitis or pneumonia should consult a doctor before getting a flu shot. And those with a high fever should not receive the vaccine until they feel better.

Pregnant women who have a high-risk condition should consult their healthcare provider regardless of the stage of pregnancy; healthy pregnant women may also want to consult their health-care providers about being vaccinated.

In the rare cases when the vaccine is not advisable, two prescription drugs are available for prevention of type A influenza: Symmetrel (amantadine), approved by FDA in 1976, and Flumadine (rimantadine), approved by FDA in 1993. Either drug also can be used to reduce symptoms and shorten the illness if administered within 48 hours after symptoms appear.

What Next

If, despite precautions, you do get a cold or flu, besides taking an OTC medication if needed and as directed, drink fluids and get plenty of bed rest. Your body is trying to attack the virus. Give in, and give your body a chance to fight off the infection. It takes energy to do that.

Many people are convinced that vitamin C can prevent colds or relieve symptoms. There is no conclusive evidence of this, but the vitamin may reduce the severity or duration of symptoms, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. But taking vitamin C in large amounts over long periods can be harmful, sometimes causing diarrhea and distorting common medical tests of the urine and blood.

Another proposed therapy, interferon-alpha nasal spray, can prevent infection and illness but causes unacceptable side effects like nosebleeds, according to the institute.

To locate your nearest Health Mart Pharmacy, go to or visit Art City Health Mart Pharmacy in Springville.

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