Don’t Get Caught By The Flu: Get Your Shot By November

Alexandra Caracitas, DO

Alexandra Caracitas, DO (Photo courtesy of Raritan Bay Medical Center)

By Alexandra Caracitas, DO

Flu seasons are unpredictable. Although flu epidemics happen every year, the type of flu strain, timing, severity and length of the season vary from year to year.

Flu activity peaks in the U.S. in January or February. However, seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and continue through late May. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease. Getting the flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available each fall is always a good idea.

In addition, take simple preventative measures such as staying away from sick people and washing your hands to reduce the spread of germs. If you are sick with flu, stay home from work or school to prevent spreading influenza to others.

Can people with egg allergies get the flu vaccine? Yes. There are two new cell-based vaccines this season that do not use the standard egg-based production method.

I’m expecting. Is the flu shot safe for my baby? The CDC recommends all women who are pregnant, or trying to get pregnant, be vaccinated against the flu. Women who have the flu while pregnant are more likely to experience serious symptoms.

I’ve heard about a new, high-dose flu shot. What is that? The Fluzone High-Dose is designed for people 65 years and older. Fluzone High-Dose vaccine contains four times the amount of antigen (the part of the vaccine that prompts the body to make antibody) contained in regular flu shots. Whether or not the improved immune response leads to greater protection against influenza disease after vaccination is not yet known. A study designed to determine the effectiveness of Fluzone High-Dose is expected to be completed in 2014-2015.

Dr. Caracitas is a board-certified family medicine physician. She is especially interested in providing preventive medicine for the entire family and helping patients protect, promote and maintain good health. Dr. Caracitas has been in practice since 2003, was formerly located in South River but now has an office in Raritan Bay Medical Center’s Medical Pavilion at Perth Amboy, 516 Lawrie St. Saturday appointments available and lab work done on premises. Convenient free parking. Most major medical insurances and new patients accepted. Portuguese, Spanish and English spoken. Appointments are available within 48 hours. Call 732-324-4860 or 1-800-DOCTORS.

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