There is still time to get a flu shot, said Dr. Rob DeMuro, medical director at Elizabethtown Community Hospital.
He said it typically takes 10 to 14 days for the vaccine to become fully effective but that’s not a problem, since flu typically peaks in February or March, although this year the country is seeing some earlier patterns.
“The flu can be incredibly serious,” said DeMuro. “Infants, the elderly and people with certain diseases or weakened immune systems are the most vulnerable.”
He said antiviral medication can help lessen the duration and severity of the illness, but these prescriptions must be taken at the outset of symptoms, typically within the first 48 hours.
“Anyone experiencing difficulty breathing, chest pain, bluish-colored nails or lips, confusion, or extremely high fever should seek immediate medical care,” DeMuro said.
He said normal flu symptoms include: high fever, headache, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and body aches.
“Many people have just stomach symptoms and say they have the ‘stomach flu,’ but in reality that is not the influenza virus we are talking about,” DeMuro said. “Influenza virus is a respiratory virus, so you should have some cough.”
CVPH MEDICAL CENTER
Christine Blake, spokesperson for CVPH Medical Center, said the hospital remains busy as the daily count of patients continues to be high.
“From Dec. 1 to Jan. 10 of 2013, we had 134 lab positives for flu,” Blake said. “Of those, 27 were admitted through the Emergency Room.”
On Thursday, the hospital was at full capacity, with eight patients using overflow beds in the hospital’s Pediatric Unit.
“We have seen an increase in flu-related admissions, but not all of these admissions are related to flu,” Blake said.
The increased admissions have put a lot of stress on coverage, but Blake said the needs of patients are continually being met.