WILKES-BARRE TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Doctors recommend to brace yourself for another flu season. Even though the 2018-2019 flu season is technically not here, there are still isolated cases of the flu popping up across the U.S. Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller explains what you need to know this flu season.
The fall season is here which signals it’s time to get your flu shot. Dr. Kwaku Boakye, MD with MedExpress Urgent Care in Wilkes-Barre Township said, “Usually until the season starts, we’re not really sure how bad of a season it’s going to be but we usually say let’s prepare for the worst.”
That’s exactly what the 2017-2018 flu season was which, for the first time, the CDC classified as high severity across all age groups. Dr. Boakye is cautiously optimistic it won’t be as bad this season but it’s hard to say with any great certainty since the flu virus can shift and mutate. “We can never predict the kind of flu season we’re going to have because the flu strain changes every year and that’s why it’s important to get the flu vaccine,” he said.
It takes about two weeks for your immune system to develop antibodies to protect against the virus. Even if it doesn’t stop the specific flu strain, Dr. Boakye says it’s still beneficial. “It does lessen severity because your body kind of builds up some of the immunity towards the flu.”
Even if you don’t get the flu, you could be a carrier. And one of the biggest culprits for spreading those flu germs is your cell phone. The virus can cling to your digital device. Dr. Boakye said, “You’re leaving it next to the computer or on the desk. You’re holding door knobs and touching your phone, bringing it home. Your family members are touching your phone, especially the children.”
He recommends wiping down your phone, desk, countertop or any surface you touch. Also, practice good hygiene like washing your hands and keeping them away from your face. And remember the first line of defense. “Get the flu shot,” said Dr. Boakye.
The CDC has approved the nasal vaccine FluMist this year as an option besides the flu shot. It’s recommended everyone six months and older get the vaccine especially the very young, seniors and those with serious health conditions.