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    Dispelling Flu Myths – What You Need to Know from Naval Hospital Bremerton

    Dispelling Flu Myths – What You Need to Know from Naval Hospital Bremerton

    Photo By Douglas Stutz | No flu folly here...Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman Romualdo Humarang receives his...... read more read more



    Story by Douglas Stutz 

    Naval Hospital Bremerton

    Call it flu fiction, flu fabrication, or flu falsehood.

    Not for the approximately 800 beneficiaries who took advantage of Naval Hospital Bremerton’s (NHB) annual Flu Shot exercise on Nov. 17 and 18, 2019, to receive their vaccination.

    Nor for the many more anticipated as the exercise continues Nov. 19 through Nov. 22, from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., wrapping up Nov. 23, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., at NHB’s Branch Health Education Center, 2850 Thresher Ave, Naval Base Kitsap Bangor.

    However, there seems to be an ever-increasing number of myths concerning the annual vaccination against influenza.

    The flu fibs, populated on more than one social media platform, advocate such beliefs that flu vaccinations are ineffective and possibly even dangerous.

    Dangerous? Out of 49 million flu cases in the U.S. last year – up from the 30 million in 2017 – there were 79,000 deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) adds that there are between 291,000 and 646,000 worldwide fatalities each year from influenza-related respiratory illnesses.

    According to Lt. Brett M. Burnham, Naval Hospital Bremerton Preventative Medicine head, there are some groups that allege the government is behind some malicious plot to deliver illnesses to the public through government vaccine campaigns that are harmful rather than helpful.

    “Such information is false and can be very misleading to the public,” said Burnham, noting that the CDC estimates that the influenza vaccine can decrease one’s threat for developing flu illness by as much as 40 to 60 percent. Moreover, the CDC estimates the 2017 and 2018 flu vaccinations prevented approximately seven million flu illnesses, 109,000 hospitalizations, and 8,000 flu-related deaths in the United States.

    Despite the possibility of getting sick, or even the potential loss of life, there are those who refuse, refute, and rebuff any help to prevent just that.

    We asked Lt. Burnham to provide context to some of the more common myths:

    Can the flu shot actually give me the flu?

    “No, the flu vaccine cannot give you the flu since it is made of flu viruses that have been killed. However, some side effects, though very rare, can include developing a fever and/or muscle aches for a day or two after the receiving the vaccine,” Burnham said.

    Does the flu shot really work?

    “Yes,” attests Burnham. “While the flu vaccine is not 100 percent effective at preventing the flu, it is your best protection.”

    If I am not in a high risk age group - elderly or young child - why should I get the vaccine?

    “Everyone is at risk for acquiring the flu virus. The CDC recommends that those six months and older receive the vaccine. Pregnant women, and those with chronic health conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease, and diabetes, are especially encouraged to get vaccinated annually,” remarked Burnham.

    Can I get the flu vaccine and still get the flu?

    “Yes, but you reduce your odds of getting the flu. Furthermore, a CDC study from 2017 provides strong evidence that the flu vaccine significantly reduces the severity of one’s illness in the event that they do get the flu after being vaccinated,” said Burnham.

    Why do I have to get the vaccine in October or November when the flu season seems to peak months later?

    “The CDC recommends that all eligible persons receive the flu vaccine beginning at the end of October and continue through the duration of the flu season into January and even beyond. The earlier you are vaccinated within this timeframe, the better your odds of being protected throughout the most dangerous months. The vaccine is not effective until two weeks after receiving it. The flu season typically peaks between December and February, and can extend out as late as May,” stated Burnham.

    NHB’s Preventive Medicine team, along with NHB’s Immunization Clinic and Branch Health Clinics (BHC) Bangor and Everett adhere to the CDC guidelines that immunization not only helps protect vaccinated individuals, but also helps protect entire communities by preventing and reducing the spread of the disease, especially in the most vulnerable groups of pediatric patients six months to 35 months and patients 65 and older.

    As has been the case in the past, active duty and activated Navy Reservists can also receive the vaccination at the Flu Shot exercise.

    Dr. Dan Frederick, NHB Population Health and Forecasting expert, proposes that there are four practical ‘C’s’ to consider during this flu season – clean, cover, contain and call.

    Clean: Wash your hands. As often as possible. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
    Cover: Cover your cough and sneeze. Always. But not with your hands. Use your shoulder, upper arm, or crook of your elbow.
    Contain: Contain germs by steering clear of others who are sick. If ill, stay home until well to avoid spreading germs.
    Call: Contact/visit your provider if you or your child has a fever greater than 100 degrees.

    “Hand hygiene is one of the most effective ways to mitigate the spread of the flu virus. The reason why hand-hygiene is continually stressed not just in a hospital but in everyday routine is that people often become infected with influenza when they touch something with influenza viruses on it and then touch their mouth or nose,” Frederick added, noting that one of the challenging aspects of flu is that someone who becomes infected can infect others one day before they have symptoms and up to five days after becoming sick.

    Influenza usually causes mild to severe illness, and uncommonly can lead to death. Symptoms of influenza include fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, chills, runny or stuffy nose and muscle aches. Stomach symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea also can occur but are more common in children than adults.

    Naval Hospital Bremerton follows CDC recommendations for protection from the flu:
    - Avoid close contact with people who are sick, when you are sick, and keep your distance from others to protect them from also getting sick.
    - If possible, stay home from work, school and errands when you are sick to help prevent others from catching your illness.
    - Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
    - Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs.
    - Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his/her eyes, nose or mouth.



    Date Taken: 11.19.2019
    Date Posted: 11.19.2019 20:29
    Story ID: 352483
    Location: BREMERTON , WA, US 

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