What You Need to Know About the Flu

May 5, 2022

Dr. Jerry Williams of Urgent Care 24/7 discusses influenza, the flu.

With everything we've had going on with COVID-19 influenza, understandably, has taken a backseat. We've actually seen very little flu during the COVID-19 epidemic, especially in in 2020 2021. Flu season. Now, at the very 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 that have been employed to control the Covid-19 pandemic, there's been very little influenza nationally, where, where our urgent care centers are, which is all over the southern half of the United States, we've seen almost no flu. It's still important topic because flu is coming back flus endemic, and we need to talk about it.

First of all, Dr. Williams wants to talk about the topic of 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 varies from year to year on how that how effective the vaccine is. Because the vaccine makers, our manufacturers are having to predict what the flu virus is going to mutate into for the following flu season. To manufacture those vaccines in advance. So it's really a challenge for them to get it right.

They get it right more than they don't, but the the vaccine is variable in its effectiveness from year to year. One thing I do want you to know is is that you're not going to catch the flu from the flu vaccine. Dr. Williams hears a lot of 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 if you 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 for example, COVID-19 as the flu can be a very, very serious illness, and it does kill people. Occasionally, usually it's the very young or very old or people who are infirm who have underlying medical condition. But occasionally, influenza will kill a perfectly healthy person. It's really important that if you think you've got influenza to go get a flu test or rapid flu test.

If it's positive, get treated. The main two drugs that are 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 or so of the influenza infection when 48 hours or so after the patient becomes symptomatic.

What these antivirals do is they they stopped 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 of time, these drugs are not thought to be very helpful.

So that being said, it's really 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 as 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 in during flu season which is the late fall early winter through late winter, early spring. You can get the flu any, any month of the year.

Dr. Williams has actually seen both flu A and B in June, July and August. It is uncommon, but we do see it. So don't if you think if 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 and 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 really important to go get checked and get on Tamiflu or xofluza as early as possible, because that's what is going to 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.