It’s flu shot season!
Ebert Family Clinic now has flu shots available for both kids and adults! As we move into cold and flu season, there are several things for mountain residents to remember about the flu. First, the flu and the common cold are two separate illnesses that are prevented and treated differently. The common cold is generally a mild and self limiting viral infection, caused by one of more than 200 types of virus from the rhinovirus family (6). Because of the vast number of virus responsible for the common cold, there is no vaccine. While the flu may also be self limiting in some cases, it carries higher risk of severe complications than dose the common cold and is thus monitored by both the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization (5). Additionally, the flu is cased by a smaller family of viruses, influenza A and influenza B (5). Many symptoms between the flu and the common cold overlap, often causing confusion in when to seek treatment and come see Dr. Chris. Although both pathogens share these symptoms, fever is generally higher in influenza infections, as is severe headache, body aches, cough and even vomiting in children (2). The only way to know for sure is by testing for flu using a rapid flu swab that can be done in the clinic. If your flu swab is positive for influenza, antiviral medications can be used to reduce the chances of severe complications, such as oseltamivir, or Tamiflu (2).
Unfortunately, mountain residents are at a higher risk of complication from influenza infections. Data gathered from across Mexico during the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic showed that rates of hospitalization and death from influenza in patients living above 1,765 meters was three times that of patient living under that altitude (7). Frisco, CO sits at 2,766 meters above sea level. While many remember the 2009 flu year as one of the worst in recent history with 384 pediatric flu deaths in the US, it should also be noted that last year, 101 children in the US died from influenza complications. About 85% of those children had not been vaccinated against influenza (5). One way influenza viruses can lead to death is by breaking down epithelia cells found along our airways and even causing macrophages and neutrophils, two type of white blood cells to malfunction. These attacks on the immune system then allow the infected victim to be susceptible to bacterial infections, such as pneumonia (4). Viral infections such as influenza increase the risk of a high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) (3). Children ages 6 months to age four are at an even higher risk of these devastating complications of an influenza infection (4).
Receiving the flu vaccine each year is an easy way to prevent severe flu infections in your self and your loved ones. The flu vaccine is no longer available in the nasal mist, thus an injection is necessary. Additionally, people who were once unable to get the flu shot because of egg allergies can now get the flu shot, but will need to be monitored for reactions for 30 minutes after receiving the vaccine (1). All preparations of the flu vaccine are either inactivated influenza virus or recombinant influenza virus (or parts of the DNA from the virus). Neither of these preparations involve live influenza virus and they cannot cause an influenza infection.
For more information or to make an appointment to receive your flu shot, please call the Ebert Family Clinic at 970-668-1616
Erica Fitzgerald, MSN FNP student
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). Vaccination Who should do it, who should not and who should take precautions. Retrieved from : https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/whoshouldvax.htm#flu-shot
- Decker, B & Herring, M. (2011). Influenza vs the common cold: Symptoms and treatment. Pharmacy Times, 77(11): 80. Retrieved from: http://go.galegroup.com.libproxy.uccs.edu/ps/i.do?p=AONE&u=colosprings&id=GALE|A305993419&v=2.1&it=r&sid=summon&authCount=1
- Hevroni, A., Goldman, A., & Kerem, E. (2015). High altitude: Physiology and pathophysiology in adults and children: A review. Clinical Pulmonary Medicine, 22(3): 105-113. DOI: 10.1097/CPM.0000000000000093
- Martin-Loeches, I., Van Someren Greve, F., & Schultz, M. J. (2017). Bacterial pneumonia as an influenza complication. Current Opinion in Infectious Disease, 30(2): 201-207. doi1097/QCO.0000000000000347
- Munoz, F. M. (2017). Seasonal influenza in children: Clinical features and diagnosis. In G. B. Mallory & M. S. Edwards (Eds.) UpToDate Database. Retrieved from: https://www.uptodate.com/contents/the-common-cold-in-children-management-and-prevention?source=search_result&search=cold&selectedTitle=2~150
- Pappas, D. E. (2017). The common cold in children: Management and Prevention. In M. S. Edwards & M. M. Torchia (Eds.) UpToDate Database. Retrieved from: https://www.uptodate.com/contents/the-common-cold-in-children-management-and-prevention?source=search_result&search=cold&selectedTitle=2~150
- Perez-Padilla, R., Garcia-Sancho, C., Fernandez, R., Franco-Marina, F., Lopez-Gatell, H., & Bojorquez, L. (2013). The impact of altitude on hospitalization and hospital mortality from pandemic 2009 influenza a (H1N1) virus pneumonia in Mexico. Salud publica de Mexico, 55(11): 92-95. doi: 1590/S0036-36342013000100013