By Dr. Byun

No one will contest how tight knit our White Pine community is. For that reason, despite our low population density, we make our efforts to meet and greet our fellow residents. It is not uncommon to see our own epidemic on an annual basis. Last year our community dealt with a surge of Respiratory Syncytial Virus spread among our infants and toddlers. These, along with our elderly residents, are among the most vulnerable. I’m talking about our babies and our grandparents. It is why it is so important to be updated on your immunizations. Those who remember how it feels to contract polio, for instance, can attest to the life-time devastation. We depend on one another to be immune to preventable diseases so that collectively we can create a virtual barrier called herd immunity. By creating this collective defense we protect those who cannot receive certain vaccinations due to illness, a treatment modality, or lack of immunity seen in babies and some elderly citizens. Even if some contract the disease, the herd immunity blocks from becoming an epidemic. By protecting yourself, you protect your family, your church, your school, and your community.

The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, with the assistance of The County Board of Public Health will be issuing free flu shots this year. Many of our residents are volunteering their time and resources to make this happen.  It is free of charge. The event will be held at White Pine High School on October 20 from 10 am to 2 pm.  I encourage you to be good stewards of the community.

FAQs and Myths

Who should get the shot?

Vast majority of you. Everyone aged 6 months and older is recommended for annual flu shots, with rare exception.

What can I do to protect myself and my loved ones this flu season?

Wash your hands regularly. Flu virus survives on surfaces for 24 hours. To put into perspective, it is a long time. It is proven to be very effective.

Those who do not qualify for the vaccine (see below) should take extra precaution if going to a public area is unavoidable.

Avoid touching your face before hand washing and cough on your on your elbow, not your hands.

Elect to use physical barriers such as mask.

Can I get the flu from the flu vaccine?

No. The myth was precipitated by symptoms that resemble the flu such as cough, fever, malaise, soreness. This is called an immune response and mostly resolves in 1-2 days.

I’ll take my chances. If I get the flu, I’ll get over it.

Would you bet $10,000 to win a buck? Even in healthy individuals, the flu can cause severe illness with loss of work productivity and death.  About 200,000 are hospitalized and 56,000 died in 2012-2013 in the U.S.

Can I pass on the flu even if I don’t have symptoms?

Yes. You may be carrying it. Others without symptoms may be carrying it and pass it on to you.

Why do I need the flu shot every year?

Immunity fades out quicker for this vaccine, and different strain of the flu may be pandemic.

Who should NOT get this vaccine?

1. Infants younger than 6 months of age.

2. People who have experienced a severe (life threatening) allergy to a prior dose or components of the vaccine.

3. Those with history of Guillain-Barré Syndrome within 6 weeks of receipt of influenza vaccine. If you have any history of Guillain-Barré Syndrome, you should consult your doctor for specific qualification.

What about egg allergies?

1. Those who have experienced only hives after exposure to egg may receive flu vaccine.

2. Those who have had symptoms other than hives, such as swelling of face or airways, respiratory distress, lightheadedness, recurrent vomiting, or anaphylaxis should not get this vaccine in a public setting but still may receive in a qualified medical setting. This issue should be discussed with your doctor.

For more information, visit immunizenevada.org or cdc.gov/flu