December 15, 2022
Dr. Jerry Williams of Urgent Care 24/7 discusses influenza, the flu.
Everything we've had with COVID-19 influenza has taken a backseat. We've actually seen very little flu during the COVID-19 epidemic, especially in 2020 2021. Flu season. Now, at the beginning of COVID-19, we did see some flu, and actually about 20% of all COVID-19 patients also had influenza A, B, or both.
At Urgent Care, 247, we actually saw some of those patients, they were very sick. With the measures employed to control the COVID-19 pandemic, there's been very little influenza nationally. Where, where our urgent care centers are, all over the southern half of the United States, we've seen almost no flu. It's still an important topic, because flu is coming back. Flu is endemic, and we need to talk about it.
First of all, Dr. Williams wants to talk about flu shots. We know it's a hot topic for some people, and people tell Dr. Williams, oh, I'll never get a flu shot. The only time I got the flu shot, I caught the flu. Well, first of all, the flu vaccine is not 100% effective. It actually depends on how effective that vaccine is. Because the vaccine makers are the vaccine makers, our manufacturers have to predict what the flu virus will mutate into for the following flu season. To manufacture those vaccines in advance. So it's a challenge for them to get it right.
They get it right more than they don't, but the vaccine is variable in its effectiveness from year to year. One thing I want you to know is that you're not going to catch the flu from the flu vaccine. Dr. Williams hears many people say that, and it's just not true. Secondly, he wants to talk to you about what you should do if you get the flu or think you might have the flu.
First and foremost, you need to go get evaluated and seen, and get a flu test immediately. Because even though flu isn't as deadly as COVID-19, as the flu can be a serious illness, and it kills people. Occasionally, usually it's the very young or very old or people who are infirm who have an underlying medical condition. But occasionally, influenza will kill a perfectly healthy person. It's important that you get a flu test or rapid flu test if you think you've got influenza.
If it's positive, get treated. The main two drugs used for treating the flu are xofluza, which is a one time dose medication that's an antiviral, and Tamiflu, which is a medication again, an antiviral, that's given in the first 48 hours or so when you're when you come down with the symptoms of the flu. Now, we've talked about this in Dr. Williams's COVID-19 lecture treatment of COVID-19. We'll talk about it here for flu. These antiviral drugs are effective when given in the first 48 hours of the influenza infection, when 48 hours or so after the patient becomes symptomatic.
What these antivirals do is stop the replication of the virus before it can reproduce or replicate in a large, high volume, and thus infect the host with a large volume or viral load of viruses. So that's why there's a treatment advantage for getting the antiviral medications in the patient as quickly as possible. During that first 48 hours after that period, these drugs are not thought to be helpful.
So that being said, it's important that if you think you might have influenza, to go get seen immediately and get a flu test. Now, the other issue about flu is that a lot of people think oh, well, it's summertime, so it couldn't be the flu. Well, flu is around all the time. Though it is certainly more prevalent during flu season, which is the late fall, early winter, through late winter, early spring. You can get the flu any month of the year.
Dr. Williams actually saw both flu A and B in June, July and August. It is uncommon, but we do see it. So don't if you think you've got all the symptoms of flu, and we can go over those. It's a, it's a pulmonary infection. If you're worried about cough and fever, runny eyes, and runny nose, body aches. You could also have nausea and vomiting in malaise, fatigue, and headache. If you have those symptoms, it's important to go get checked and get on Tamiflu or xofluza as early as possible, because that's what will be most effective.
We hope that this is useful discussion on influenza for you, and Dr. Williams looks forward to talking to you again soon with one of our medical chats.
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