We’ve got you covered for all things flu
Your local FastMed is the convenient place to go for flu prevention, flu treatment, and flu education. With extended office hours, online check-in, and neighborhood clinics throughout Texas, North Carolina, and Arizona, you can consider us your local headquarters for all things flu-related.
Don’t let the flu get you
According to the CDC, influenza causes an estimated 9.2 million to 35.6 million illnesses each year. Of these, between 140,000 to 710,000 cases require hospitalization. From 12,000 to 56,000 cases are fatal.
We want to make sure you don’t wind up one of these unlucky statistics. So, let’s start by covering some important flu facts. Our goal is to help you minimize downtime, avoid infecting others, and ideally, prevent the flu altogether.
The flu includes four different types of influenza virus, three of which infect humans.
Influenza A and B viruses are typically responsible for seasonal outbreaks in the U.S. The A virus has also been linked to global infections of Bird Flu and Swine Flu. The C virus is usually milder and unlikely to cause an actual epidemic. Influenza D infects cattle, not humans.
Spreading the flu is easy to do since it can be passed along to others before you exhibit symptoms. If infected, you may be contagious as early as one day before influenza symptoms develop, and for up to one week afterward. Often, very young children and people with weakened immune systems remain contagious for even longer periods.
The CDC recommends that those infected by the flu stay home for at least 24 hours after they’re fever-free—without help from fever-reducing medication.
Influenza symptoms can be difficult to diagnose
Flu treatment can prove difficult since influenza symptoms can be nearly impossible to distinguish from symptoms of other illnesses. A sore throat, fever, runny nose or stuffiness can easily be attributed to a range of illnesses—most notably, the common cold.
Influenza symptoms also vary by individual. One person may experience fatigue, body aches, and chills, while another flu victim experiences fever, diarrhea, and vomiting. Not surprisingly, the flu can be nearly impossible to diagnose without a specific flu test, which must be administered shortly after infection to be accurate.
Often, patients want to know how to prevent the flu or what to take to prevent flu symptoms. There are few effective over the counter flu prevention medications. Some sources recommend zinc, echinacea, vitamins, or even certain foods to prevent flu, including foods rich in antioxidants, lean protein, and vitamins A, C, and E.
For those already infected, there are no surefire methods for how to get rid of the flu – except tincture of time and your body’s own immune system. Under certain circumstances, your FastMed provider may prescribe an antiviral medication that tend to lessen influenza symptoms as well as the duration of the illness.
Although antiviral drugs can be somewhat helpful in treating influenza symptoms, they’re most effective only when administered within the first 48 hours of symptom onset. Because of this, they’re usually reserved as a preventive measure for patients at high-risk, or for those exposed to the virus who haven’t yet exhibited symptoms.
How the flu outsmarts you
One reason flu remedies are often ineffective is that the flu virus cleverly fools the body’s immune system. As soon as you develop proper protection, the virus changes slightly so that the immune system will no longer recognize it.
This is why you may get the flu virus year after year. This constant mutation also means the flu vaccine must be regularly updated to remain useful.
How to prevent the flu
Looking for tips to avoid the flu? For the most effective ways to prevent the flu, start with a few basic flu season tips.
The flu prevention tips recommended by the CDC include:
- Washing hands often, using soap & water
- Decontaminating frequently touched surfaces, such as smartphones & keypads
- Keeping hands away from your face, eyes & nose
- Sneezing into a tissue or the crook of your elbow to avoid spreading germs
- Never sharing food, drinks, or toothbrushes with others
- Getting vaccinated
Your one “must-do” for flu prevention
Influenza is a highly contagious set of viruses that can quickly affect people of all ages. Thankfully, your FastMed provider is the expert on how to prevent a flu epidemic. The influenza vaccine is the most convenient, affordable, and effective way to prevent a flu virus from infecting you, your family, and others.
Twice a year, healthcare specialists do research to identify which flu viruses they believe will most likely occur that season. Then, vaccines are made which contain “dead” samples of these viruses. The “dead” or “killed” virus samples are injected into the body in order to train it. In response, the body’s immune system develops antibodies to protect against these viruses.
Why the flu shot remains your best shot
One of the best tips for preventing the flu is to get a flu shot annually. Even though only 60% effective, even less effective flu shot prevents more severe symptoms. Those vaccinated tend to get a milder form of the flu than those who are unvaccinated. They may also suffer less from complications of the virus.
Keep in mind, there is more than one kind of flu shot. Different Influenza vaccines may use the same samples but still be manufactured in different ways. These differences allow more people to get the flu shot safely. The proper flu shot for each individual depends on age, medical history, and many other factors. Your FastMed provider can help you determine the right influenza vaccine for you and your family.
Worried that the flu shot can cause influenza? As mentioned previously, flu vaccines contain only inactivated or weakened flu viruses, incapable of infection. Some people notice temporary soreness, tenderness, and redness in the area surrounding the shot. Low-grade fever, headaches, and muscle aches are also common soon after the vaccination.
Flu shot timing
The best way to ensure that you don’t catch the flu is to stay one step ahead of it. Ideally, everyone over the age of six months should get a flu shot when vaccines are distributed in late summer or early fall, before flu season begins. At the very latest, you should be vaccinated by October, since the flu vaccine takes up to two weeks to provide full protection. That said, a flu vaccine at any time of the year is still better than none at all.
Dollars & flu sense
At only $25 to $80 out-of-pocket, the flu shot is an inexpensive prevention method that can spare you countless sick days and associated medical costs. In fact, the trivalent vaccine, commonly used and approved for those between 18 and 64 years, is available at many FastMed locations for no-cost when covered by most insurance plans.** You can also self-pay for just $35.
Check with your neighborhood FastMed provider to see whether the trivalent vaccine is the right choice for you this season. And remember, the sooner the antibodies take effect, the less susceptible you’ll be to the flu.
Protect yourself before flu season by visiting your nearby FastMed provider today. For convenience, you can walk-in, or check in online first for faster treatment.
The exception to the rule
There are some people who should not get the typical seasonal flu shot, or who should get the shot only on recommendation from their doctor. If you have a fever above 100 degrees, are allergic to ingredients in vaccines, or are allergic to eggs, you should let your healthcare provider know. At FastMed, we can help you determine the best alternative.
Make the flu shot an annual tradition
Even though the antibodies created by the flu shot stay in your body for years, the influenza virus mutates quickly as it travels around the world. That’s why you need to get a flu shot annually. Your body must learn to fight off new forms of the flu-causing viruses.
Since medical science hasn’t come up with a flu cure yet, the flu shot provides the best protection for you and your family. At the start of flu season, you’ll feel relieved that you have this added protection. You’ll also greatly reduce your chances of needing flu treatment and missing time from work or school.
Easy for you, not for the flu
Protecting yourself and your family against the flu is important. To help, FastMed clinics offer walk-in flu shots seven days a week. We also make it affordable and convenient to get the vaccines you need, with a range of flu shots for those over 5 years of age.
* The content presented on this page is not intended to diagnose health problems or take the place of professional medical care.