October 15, 2019
THE TIME IS NOW TO GET VACCINATED
ThedaCare Physician Recommends before the End of October
WILD ROSE, Wis. – Nearly 49 million people became ill with the influenza virus during the 2017-2018 flu season, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Of those, hundreds of thousands were hospitalized, and an estimated 79,000 people died in the United States.
“Those are big numbers,” said Zachary Baeseman, MD, MPH, FAAFP, associate medical director for ThedaCare Physicians in Wild Rose and Waupaca. “They show the importance of getting the flu shot to protect yourself and others around you.”
Dr. Baeseman explained that influenza, the respiratory flu, can be a serious illness, especially for the very young, the very old, those with chronic health conditions and pregnant women. That’s because those groups run the highest risk of developing a complication from the illness.
“We know the flu alone can kill people,” he said. “More often those who develop another illness such as bacterial pneumonia on top of influenza are the ones who die.”
He stressed that anyone over the age of six months should receive the vaccination and receive it early. He noted it is recommended that the first time a child receives the flu shot; they should get a booster shot one month later to fully activate their immune system.
He also added there’s no such thing as getting the flu shot too early.
“Most doctors recommend getting the flu shot by the end of October,” he said. “Prime flu season in Wisconsin runs from late fall to early spring, and the shot will protect throughout that timeframe. People should also keep in mind that it takes two weeks for their system to fully develop immunity after getting the shot.”
Dr. Baeseman also denied the myth that people can get the flu from the flu shot.
“It’s just not true,” he stated. “The virus in the vaccine is not live and cannot give you the flu. One in 60,000 people may develop a rare reaction, but the shot won’t give you the flu. That said, cold and flu seasons do run concurrently and getting the flu shot won’t protect you from getting a cold. That could happen within days of getting the shot, but that’s a cold, not the flu.”
He also noted that some people may run a low-grade fever and feel a little under-the-weather for a few days after receiving the shot. That is not the flu, instead, just their immune system building immunity.
For those who are concerned about preservatives in the shot, Dr. Baeseman advised that there is a preservative-free shot available, which is offered at ThedaCare Clinics. ThedaCare and many local pharmacies also carry the high-dose vaccine, which is recommended for adults 65 and older.
Dr. Baeseman said it is important to get the shot every year.
“Unfortunately, it’s not a one and done situation with the flu shot,” he said. “The influenza virus is constantly changing. Some years Influenza A is more active; other years it’s Influenza B or the H1N1 virus. Scientists are never certain which strain will be most active in a given year, they examine the research and create the best vaccine possible to fight the strain.”
If the vaccine that is developed doesn’t cover the strain being seen during a specific flu season, Dr. Baeseman said it still provides 40 to 60 percent more protection. That often results in milder symptoms, quicker recovery and less time missed from work and school. More importantly it means less time being in a weakened condition that might result in a person getting a complicating illness.
“For those with chronic disease, it means less chance of making their underlying condition worse,” he said. “With the flu, we’re talking about an infection that can be deadly. Even partial protection can mean the difference between life and death. It just makes sense to get the shot and protect yourself and those around you.”
For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to improving the health of the communities it serves in Northeast and Central Wisconsin. The organization delivers care to a community of more than 600,000 residents in 14 counties and employs more than 7,000 healthcare professionals. ThedaCare has 180 locations including seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, New London, Shawano, Waupaca and Wild Rose. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a not-for-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service.
Media should call Cassandra Wallace, Public Relations Specialist at 920.442.0328 or the ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah switchboard at 920.729.3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.