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How To Beat The Flu This Season

— It may still be too early to tell exactly what this year's flu season will bring, but it's not too early to roll up your sleeve for the flu vaccine.

Aired 9/16/13 on KPBS News.

It may still be too early to tell exactly what this year's flu season will bring, but it's not too early to roll up your sleeve for a vaccine.

KPBS Morning Edition anchor Deb Welsh spoke with San Diego County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten who says there's only one way to keep the flu at bay.

Dr. Wilma Wooten: Vaccination is the single most important thing that people can do to help prevent getting influenza.

Deb Welsh: When do you anticipate the vaccine being ready for this flu season?

Wooten: The vaccine is already out there. Some providers already have the vaccine. It depends on when it was ordered. The pinacle of when people really start vaccinating is now, actually — September, October. Technically, influenza season is Nov. 1 throughout March 31.

Welsh: How long does the vaccine last?

Wooten: The recommendation is to get the annual influenza vaccination because there are different influenza strains that circulate every year. So, it is an annual influenza vaccination.

Welsh: Is it the same strains that circulate every year, or do new ones crop up every now and then?

Wooten: There are both. Sometimes it is part of the same strain, then there are some new strains. So, each vaccine — up until this year — covered three different influenza strains. That's why it's called a "trivalent." This year, for the first time, there are four different strains in some of the vaccines that will be available — the nasal spray and another injectable form.

Last year during the 2012-2013 season, there were 65 deaths and more than 5,000 confirmed influenza cases due to flu-related complications in San Diego County.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | September 16, 2013 at 11:23 a.m. ― 3 years, 5 months ago

sOMEONE PLEASE explain hoe a virus has a season.

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Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | September 16, 2013 at 1:14 p.m. ― 3 years, 5 months ago

"The exact mechanism behind the seasonal nature of influenza outbreaks is unclear. Some proposed explanations are:

-People are indoors more often during the winter, they are in close contact more often, and this promotes transmission from person to person.

-A seasonal decline in the amount of ultraviolet radiation may reduce the likelihood of the virus being damaged or killed by direct radiation damage or indirect effects (i. e. ozone concentration) increasing the probability of infection.

-Cold temperatures lead to drier air, which may dehydrate mucus membranes, preventing the body from effectively defending against respiratory virus infections.

-The virus may linger longer on exposed surfaces (doorknobs, countertops, etc.) in colder temperatures.

-In nations where children do not go to school in the summer, there is a more pronounced beginning to flu season, coinciding with the start of public school. It is thought that the creche environment is perfect for the spread of illness.

-Vitamin D production from Ultraviolet-B in the skin changes with the seasons and affects the immune system."


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