TMH Living Well: Ward off the flu with good hygiene and a flu shot
Flu shots available at TMH Medical Clinic
Every fall brings a new flu bug to challenge our immune systems. The flu virus adapts each year and can be hard to predict. The flu shot is designed with the latest strains in mind and often offers good protection.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), this year’s shot protects against three or four viruses depending on whether you receive the standard or high-dose shot. It comes in shot form only this year, no nasal sprays are available. The shot has been updated to better match circulating viruses.
“The clinic has plenty of the vaccine on hand. We have both the standard flu vaccination for the general healthy population and high-dose flu vaccination for individuals over 65 years of age and individuals with chronic illness. We also have special pediatric doses for children ages six months to 3 years,” said Amy Peck, nursing manager at The Memorial HospitalThe Memorial Hospital Medical Clinic. Medical Clinic.
The Memorial Hospital Medical Clinic.
Patients can either make an appointment or walk in between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, or 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays. The flu shot is generally covered under insurance, but the out-of-pocket cost is $20.
“We are here to help. If you think you are coming down with the flu, don’t stay home miserable. Come in and we’ll get you in to see a provider,” Peck said.
The CDC recommends that people who are showing signs of the flu should see their doctor immediately for one of two antiviral drugs — Tamiflu or Relenza. When received within 48 hours it can reduce the length and severity of the flu. The clinic offers both options to patients.
“In our neck of the woods, flu comes a little later. We haven’t seen the flu yet, but last year we started seeing it mid-December and into January. However we are starting to see strep throat and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), a common virus in young children,” Peck said.
If your baby or toddler gets sick, remember that you’ve got a great resource in the TMH Suction Clinic. Since babies can’t blow their own noses, they need help clearing their airways during bouts of RSV or the flu. 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.
“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,” said Dr. Kristie Yarmer, pediatrician with TMH Medical Clinic.
At the start, 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:
• Fever over 100 degrees
• Aching muscles, especially in your back, arms and legs
• Chills and sweats
• Dry cough
• Fatigue and weakness
• Nasal congestion
“It’s best to prevent the flu in the first place with good hand hygiene, healthy eating and by getting good sleep. Teach your kids to sneeze in their arms not their hands, and have them wash their hands often,” Peck said.
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