TMH Living Well: Flu shots, flu treatment at TMH Walk-In Clinic | CraigDailyPress.com

TMH Living Well: Flu shots, flu treatment at TMH Walk-In Clinic

The Memorial Hospital

Myndi Christopher

Early data from the Centers for Disease Control suggest that this year's flu season could be severe. If you haven't received your flu shot consider getting one now.

Each year brings a mix of flu viruses, but often one or two dominate. This year a mutated strain is present in most cases of the flu so far — H3N2. Even though the flu shot doesn't provide the best protection against this particular strain, the CDC still recommends people get the flu shot. Experts say it is still effective in about half of the cases.

According to CDC experts, even though the effect of this year's flu shot is reduced they say it "might reduce the likelihood of severe outcomes such as hospital and death," and that the vaccine "still protects against half the circulating H3N2 as well as H1N1 flu and B strains."

"We are starting to see cases of the flu locally, and numbers are climbing. We recommend people come in and get a flu shot. The vaccine is available through your doctor and at the TMH Walk-In Clinic," said Clinic Director Terri Jourgensen, RN.

Is it the flu or a cold?

At first, the flu mimics the common cold with a sore throat, runny nose and sneezing. The difference is the flu comes on fast, hits hard and lasts longer — one to two weeks — while a cold is generally slower to show and more mild. According to the Mayo Clinic, signs and symptoms of the flu include:

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• Fever over 100 degrees

• Aching muscles, especially in your back, arms and legs

• Chills and sweats

• Headache

• Dry cough

• Fatigue and weakness

• Nasal congestion

Get care early to lessen severity

The CDC is recommending that people who are showing signs of the flu should see their doctor for one of two antiviral drugs — Tamiflu and Relenza. When received within a day or two it can reduce the length and severity of the flu.

"We can prescribe these antiviral medications through the TMH Walk-In Clinic. If you are experiencing symptoms come in right away," Jourgensen said.

Watch babies and young children closely

The flu traditionally hits the very young and the very old the hardest. Since the flu this year is classified as potentially severe, it's important to do what you can to protect your young children against its effects. If your child is exhibiting symptoms, see your doctor. Also, consider a flu shot — the CDC recommends the vaccine for babies 6 months and older.

Since babies can't blow their own noses, they need help clearing their airways during bouts of colds and flu. That's where the TMH Suction Clinic can be a resource. The clinic is open 24/7 and parents can bring their child up to four times a day for a week with a single prescription from their doctor. TMH respiratory therapists use a nasopharyngeal suction machine to suck out secretions. Therapists also evaluate your child's respiratory rate and oxygen saturation. Patients check in at the ED main desk. Cost is $128 per visit and can be billed to insurance.

"Signs that your baby is having difficulty breathing include an inability to suck a bottle, rapid breathing, noisy breathing, wheezing and retracting or pulling in underneath their rib cage while breathing. If you see these signs your baby needs to be evaluated," said Dr. Kristie Yarmer, pediatrician with TMH Medical Clinic.

This weekly article with tips on living well is sponsored by The Memorial Hospital at Craig — improving the quality of life for the communities we serve through patient-centered healthcare and service excellence.

Flu shots/Flu Treatment Available at TMH Walk-In Clinic

Shot: $20, mist – $30, flu block – $40 (egg allergy)

No appointment necessary

Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday

Extended hour appointments available until 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday.