Influenza can be a health threat that is both troublesome and unpredictable.
Marvin Bittner, M.D., infectious disease specialist, Alegent Creighton Clinic, recommends that everyone age 6 months and older receive the flu vaccine.
In recent years, Dr. Bittner said, the public health agencies and the medical industry have moved from a "one-size-fits-all" approach to flu vaccinations to more individualized options. For example:
- Children less than 9 years of age who are receiving the vaccine for the first time should receive two shots
- Others who have a fear of needles may opt for the nasal mist or smaller intradermal needle.
- Patients age 65 and older also may choose a high-dose vaccine that stimulates higher levels of antibodies.
Michael Grace, M.D., a family medicine physician at Alegent Creighton Clinic in Florence, added that while this year’s flu season is expected to be no worse than usual, prevention of the disease is key.
"I encourage all of my patients to get the vaccine," he said. "The more people who get vaccinated, the less the flu virus can spread throughout our community and we can protect more people."
Key symptoms of the flu include fatigue, achy muscles, fever, sore throat and coughing. "It’s like a cold on steroids," Dr. Grace said.
Patients should see their doctors within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms to be tested for the flu and to receive anti-viral medication to reduce the severity and duration of the infection.
Alegent Creighton Clinic has primary care clinics across the metro area and region, including six Quick Care and two Express Care sites in the Omaha area, where patients may go for immunization, evaluation and treatment of flu and flu-like illnesses.