Time to get that annual flu shot

An RN at the Stuttgart Health Clinic immunizes a community member for the 2017 flu season. Photo by Kevin Abel, USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs

By John Reese
USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs

The Stuttgart Health Clinic, the Centers for Disease Control and Popular Science agree: Get your annual influenza shot.

All Stuttgart military community members 6 months and up are encouraged to visit the Stuttgart Health Clinic Nov 4, Nov.18 and Dec. 2. for vaccination. The clinic on Patch Barracks, open to all eligible Stuttgart military community members.

Everyone has been there before and knows the symptoms. Coming down with the flu can be very mild to life-threatening, even fatal. Getting a flu shot doesn’t mean you won’t get the flu, but it can make the difference between how severe the flu is, how long it lasts, etc.

The CDC recommends the flu shot each year for “highly susceptible individuals such as seniors, pregnant women, young children, healthcare workers, policemen, persons with asthma, diabetes, or other chronic medical conditions.”

Popular Science says that more than half of the American public doesn’t get an annual flu shot for a variety of reasons, from fearing/hating shots to feeling virus-proof from not always coming down with influenza.

“You can’t get the flu from the flu shot. The flu can kill people, even healthy adults,” said Sara Chodosh, science writer. “It takes a few weeks for the vaccine to kick in, so if you get sick right after the shot it was just a coincidence. If you still get the flu, the vaccine helps you fend off life-threatening complications.”

Common reactions to flu shots are redness, swelling and pain at the injection site, as well as fatigue, headache, muscle aches, fever, chills, weakness and joint pain, adds Capt. Scott Maddox, Stuttgart Health Clinic Preventative Health.

The Oct. 11 Popular Science article goes on to note the evidence is that vaccinating every single year is the right thing to do, regardless of rationalizations.

“The influenza virus is a contagious viral respiratory disease which tends to increase and spread between early fall and late spring months,” Maddox said.

Flu virus can spread person-to-person through respiratory contact, by direct contact touching infected surfaces and objects. Once infected, it takes about two days for the symptoms to appear, but you can be contagious one day before symptoms develop and up to five days after becoming ill.

“Symptoms can range from mild-to-severe. Those infected with flu may sneeze and cough often,” Maddox said. “They can have a fever, chills, headaches, muscle aches, stuffy nose, experience fatigue, possible diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.”

Maddox says the best protection is to get your flu shot and wash your hands often with soap and warm water. Also, clean your environment by frequently wiping down your workplace equipment.

“Stay home if you’re ill,” Maddox advised. “Children who are ill shouldn’t go to school or daycare. Avoid close contact with sick people and cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing,” he advises.

If you do come down with the flu, what treatment should you follow?

“Really, it is supportive,” Maddox said. “Rest, analgesics such as Tylenol, fluids and time.”

The more Stuttgart military community members who get vaccinated, the safer the community will be.

“The benefits outweigh the risk,” Maddox said.

Got shot?
People can also make an appointment outside of the scheduled hours by contacting 590-2900 or . 06371-9464-2900. To learn more about the flu, visit www.cdc.gov/flu, www.health.mil/vaccines and www.immunize.org/influenza.