Monday, October 25, 2010

Fauquier Health Recommends Getting the Flu Vaccine this Flu Season

The flu season is upon us. Physicians and healthcare workers are already lining up for their flu vaccines, so they can stay healthy and take care of others if necessary. There is plenty of vaccine available this season and it’s not too early for residents to get vaccinated.

This year’s flu vaccine is a little different, said Dr. Esther Bahk, M.D. of Fauquier Health Internal Medicine at Lake Manassas. “The 2010-2011 flu vaccine, called the Fluzone vaccine, will protect against three different flu viruses -- the H1N1 virus and the two flu viruses that scientists feel will be most active this flu season.”

She added, “Another version of the vaccine, known as Fluzone High Dose, was developed specifically for older patients. There is an antigen in flu vaccine that is responsible for prompting a strong immune response. Fluzone High Dose has four times the normal amount of this antigen.

“The higher-dose vaccine is intended for individuals 65 and older; safety trials have determined that it is as free from side effects as the regular vaccine. If older patients who have had the Fluzone High Dose do get the flu, their bodies will mount a better response. The flu won’t hit them as hard as it would otherwise. The Centers for Disease Control does not recommend one vaccine or the other, but does strongly recommend a flu shot for senior citizens.”

Some may wonder if they were vaccinated for H1N1 last year, why they need to get vaccinated again. Dr. Bahk explained, “The Fluzone vaccine provides protection against several different viruses, not just H1N1, and even if someone was vaccinated last year, that vaccine’s effectiveness will have diminished over time.”

Fauquier Health Internal Medicine at Lake Manassas in Gainesville will hold a flu clinic on Tuesdays, October 26 and November 2 and 9. Residents can come into the office between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. and get vaccinated against flu. Those with questions about the clinic may call the office at 703-743-7300.

Dr. Bahk said, “I think it’s important to empower my patients to take more responsibility for their health. Don’t smoke, drink in moderation, eat a balanced and healthy diet, exercise regularly, and see your doctor for regular checkups. “And one more thing,” she says, “get vaccinated for flu this season.”

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