Published: Oct. 9, 2012
Updated: Oct. 9, 2012
Dear Duke Medicine Patients,
As we approach flu season, we wanted to take an opportunity to discuss the upcoming vaccination plans for Duke Medicine and to again encourage each of you to discuss this important health issue with your family and friends.
We anticipate a number of strains of influenza to co-circulate this winter, specifically a number of strains of influenza A, as well as influenza B. Typically influenza B is a mild form of the flu whereas influenza A can cause severe illness, especially in those with chronic health problems or the elderly or very young.
The vaccine recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) this year contains the three most common strains, and is currently recommended for all persons age 6 months or older. We strongly recommend vaccination for our patients who have a chronic illness, are currently or recently pregnant, and young children or anyone working in the healthcare field. Remember, even if you are well, you may be in contact with others who are at greater risk than you. One of the strains is the same as last year; two are different. Consequently, we cannot rely on last year’s vaccine to protect us this year. Remember, people between 2-49 years of age have the choice between the routine injection or a nasal spray vaccine.
Vaccination early in the flu season is now recommended by the CDC. Immunity from vaccination lasts throughout the flu season. It can take up to two weeks for someone to become fully protected, so the sooner you are vaccinated the better your defense will be when the flu arrives. In recent years, the vaccine has been extremely safe. Nonetheless, some people feel unwell for one or two days afterwards, but this is not the flu, and is actually protective – it’s your immune system responding to the vaccine.
Certain people should not take the flu vaccine without discussing their options with their healthcare provider. This includes people with a history of severe egg allergy, Guillain-Barré syndrome or other vaccine-associated immune disorders. Fortunately, these are extremely rare in our community.
Duke Medicine continues to be proactive about vaccinating our healthcare workers and encouraging our peer hospitals in the region to do the same. Having a healthy workforce helps ensure patients are treated as safely as possible. We are doing our part to keep influenza out of our community, and we challenge you to do the same.
It takes teamwork to prevent the spread of the flu virus. Please consider receiving your flu vaccine this year. For more information, we recommend: www.flu.gov
William J. Fulkerson, MD
Executive Vice President, Duke University Health System
Cameron Wolfe, MD
Division of Infectious Diseases