Dr. Rani Whitfield Talks Flu Prevention

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  • Got a question about the flu? Text it to “646464” (OHOHOH).

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported that the 2012-2013 flu season is particularly bad. The virus has spread to 47 states and 20 people have died so far this season.

    And, CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden said, it may get worse over the next several weeks.

    This year’s version of the flu is not only especially widespread, but is also considered stronger than previous years. Many people avoid taking flu shots, usually citing a reaction to the shot itself or, especially among older Americans, relying on a pneumonia shot, taken about every five years, to protect them.

    Most health professionals, however, still recommend getting an annual flu shot, even if patients have had the pneumonia vaccine.

    Further, getting a flu shot doesn’t guarantee you won’t get the flu, but the CDC’s Frieden has said that those who get a shot this year will be far less likely, about 60 percent less likely, to contract the flu.

    “What we’ve known for a long time is that the flu vaccine is far from perfect. But it’s still by far the best tool we have to prevent the flu,”Frieden said.

    Additionally, there are people at high-risk for serious complications from the flu, including:
    •    People with asthma
    •    People with diabetes
    •    People with heart disease and those who have had a stroke
    •    Adults 65 and older
    •    Pregnant women
    •    People who have HIV or AIDS
    •    People who have cancer
    •    Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old

    “I advise everybody to get one,” Dr. Rani Whitfield of Baton Rouge Louisiana, also known as “The Hip-Hop Doctor,” said in a television interview about getting a flu shot.

    “But those who are most at risk are children and the elderly because of their immune systems and those with chronic illnesses, so if you are diabetic, for instance, those patients should definitely get a flu shot.”

    The flu vaccine will not give you the flu. According to the CDC, those who get flu-like symptoms after getting the vaccine most likely have been exposed to the flu before they were vaccinated or during the two-week period it takes the body to build its immunity.

    Whitfield, a family physician who uses hip hop to empower people to take better care of their health, said patients should call their physicians, clinics and local pharmacies to see if the vaccine is available and schedule an appointment for a flu shot.

    “The flu kills; so if you haven’t gotten a flu shot it’s not too late,” Whitfield said. “And wash your hands; it’s the safest thing you can do.”

    For more information, talk to your doctor or contact theCDConline or call 1-800-CDC-INFO.

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    Dr. How long should one stay home? Should those with compromised immune systems like sickle cell trait stay home at least 24 hours after your fever is resolved?
    Yes, sickle cell patients should get flu shot.

    I have had a bypass surgery and heard I shouldn’t take the flu shot it because of that; is that true?
    It is absolutely important to get the flu shot if you have heart disease/bypass surgery.

    Hey Tom, I’m recovering from a sinus infection here in Florida. Not only do we have people dealing with the flu, there are just as many with sinus infections. It’s so hot here, like mid-April, we got flowers & trees blooming, birds singing etc. How do we avoid a sinus infection during the flu season or is it not possible?
    Protect your immune system by resting at least 8 hours a day, increase vitamin c/vitamin d, stop smoking or avoid smoke.

    I started feeling sick Sunday. I didn’t go to work Monday and Tuesday. Monday my temperature was 102, yesterday it ranged from 98-100. I took Advil last night and this morning my temp is normal. I’ve been taking Tamiflu 2x a day. Can I go back to work today?
    Yes, you are getting over the flu- get back to work, stay hydrated, and get some rest.

    My 10-year old daughter is allergic to eggs, milk, nuts and has asthma. She cannot take the flu shot or spray. What is my alternative? She is currently sick.
    If she is sick now, symptomatic treatment only; some doctors will prescribe Tamiflu daily through flu season to reduce chances; healthy diet and hydration best. Call her pediatrician as soon as possible.

    I’m 21-years-old. I never had the flu or flu shot. How susceptible am I to actually catching it?
    We are all susceptible and the virus strain differs every year; not being immunized puts you and those around you at risk- the flu kills

    How is Tamiflu affective for the flu?
    Tamiflu prevents the virus from penetrating the cell membrane and keeps us from getting sick.

    Ronnie, my 8–year-old had the flu last week. I found out by taking her to the ER for excessive vomiting. They told me she tested positive for the A and B type of flu. What is that?
    Influenza type A and B are the strains of the virus that are most common; there are many viruses that can cause flu but again these in general are most common

    What can you take for the flu & colds if you are pregnant?
    It depends on the trimester but usually Tylenol and pseudoephedrine are safe.

    What if you already had the flu can you catch it again in the same season?
    Yes, you can. There are different strains of the flu; but 60% of illness can be prevented once immunized.

    Will it hurt to get the flu shot twice?
    It is not necessary to take the flu shot twice.

    What’s the difference between the flu, having a cold, and a sinus infection since the symptoms are very similar?
    The flu is caused by several different strains of viruses and can kill; colds are also viruses but less toxic; sinus infections are usually bacterial, require antibiotics, and are localized to the sinuses (in general).

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