Carolinas HealthCare System
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Flu Virus Continues to Change – Vaccine is Still Your Best Defense

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“When it comes to the flu, there is one thing we know for certain: the virus is continually changing, and each season’s strain is slightly different from the previous year’s,” said Elaine L. Campbell, DO, from Mecklenburg Medical Group-NorthCross, part of Carolinas HealthCare System.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an advisory to physicians in early December, noting the flu vaccine may not be as effective because this year’s most common strain of the flu has mutated, or changed.

“This does NOT mean we want the public to forego the flu vaccine,” said Dr. Campbell. “The vaccine is still our first defense against what, for many, can be a nasty illness.” According to Dr. Campbell, the vaccine may not be as effective in treating the strain popping up in largest numbers across the US, but it can still decrease the severity of the flu and can protect against other strains of the virus.

“Anyone who has had the flu will tell you that it’s miserable,” said Dr. Campbell. “You don’t want to get it, and you don’t want to give it to anyone else. The vaccine is not fool-proof, but it’s our best tool for prevention.”

Characterized by fever, sore throat, cough, headache and body aches, the flu can last for days or drag on for weeks. It can also result in serious health problems, like pneumonia, and can put people with weaker immune systems – children, the elderly – into the hospital. It’s important to contact your doctor if you think you may have the flu.

Avoid getting or spreading the flu:

  • Wash your hands with hot, soapy water before eating, after coming out of a crowded or busy place (school, the mall, an airport).
  • Keep your hands away from your mouth and nose, and teach your kids to do the same.
  • Use hand sanitizer if you don’t have access to soap and water.
  • If you are running a fever, stay home from school or work.
  • Avoid people who are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or the inside of your elbow when sneezing or coughing.
  • And, it’s not too late to get a flu vaccine! Flu season runs from fall to spring.

Partner With a Doctor for Good Health

The primary care doctors at Carolinas HealthCare System can help you get (and stay) on the path to wellness.

Call 844-881-2180 or complete an online request form to find a doctor near you.