Prevent the Flu this Season | An Interview with Clare Rock

(casual uplifting music)>>Narrator: Here at
Johns Hopkins Medicine, known for groundbreaking research, teaching and medical care.>>Welcome to Facebook Live
from Johns Hopkins Medicine. I’m Elizabeth Tracey.>>And I’m Clare Rock,
infectious disease physician here at the Johns Hopkins Hospital.>>Clare, thank you so
much for joining me today. This is such a timely visit because of course we’re entering flu season here in the Northern and
Western parts of the globe. What do we need to know?>>Absolutely right Elizabeth,
flu season is starting. And we’re starting to
see our first few cases of flu and likely gonna
ramp up very quickly over the coming weeks. The most important message for anybody that’s out there listening
to this Facebook broadcast is to go get vaccinated. And ideally being vaccinated before the end of October is the ideal time to allow our immune system time to build up its immunity to fight against the upcoming flu virus that’s
going to be circulating.>>Elizabeth: So we wanna get the flu vaccine as soon as possible. The flu season though really extends into the spring, isn’t that right?>>That is absolutely
right, so the flu season can persist through April
and even through May. And where we still see the
occasional case of flu, so it really is a long period
of time the flu season.>>When people think
they may have the flu, what are the symptoms
that are most common?>>So the flu infection
can be really very varied. It can be from a mild illness to really a very severe illness. It’s very different to a regular cold which is just a runny
nose or the sniffles. The flu usually starts quite abruptly, quite suddenly and often people feel like they have severe muscle aches and pains in their joints
and often can have fever or a feeling of chills. Often have cough, sore
throat and can have headache. And often or sometimes when
people have higher risk factors for more severe infection with influenza, it can lead to other
complications like pneumonia or bacterial infection in the lungs or in the sinuses or in the ears which are more serious.>>We have some medicines
that can help with the flu but don’t they need to be taken within a certain period of time?>>We do have some medicines that are antivirus-type medicines that can help fight against the flu, but ideally they need to be taken within the first couple of days of symptoms, so really prevention is
always better than cures, so focusing more on
getting the flu vaccine now as opposed to waiting
for symptoms to treat is really the best strategy.>>Well since you brought up prevention, what are some effective
preventive strategies outside of getting the vaccine?>>So the other things
that we would recommend is what we call cough etiquette. So really if you’re
feeling that you’re having a cough or a sneeze, to make sure that you’re doing that into a tissue so that there’s not
the air droplets coming from someone with the flu into the air that could be contagious
to another person. So really trying to contain
those droplets in tissues. And then we always say the importance of hand hygiene, so that can
be alcohol-based hand rub to make sure that people are clearing their hands of any viruses or pathogens, or hand washing with soap and water.>>Of course we always
worry about a flu virus being on a surface. How long can a virus still be infectious if it is on a surface if it comes from somebody’s respiratory
droplets for example?>>That’s absolutely correct, a virus can persist on surfaces and then if you are to
touch those surfaces those viruses can be
transferred to your hands, and if you were then to touch your mouth or your nose or even sometimes your eyes and that virus can be transmitted to you and you can catch influenza virus. And so that really is the importance of making sure that we’re
doing frequent hand hygiene and making sure that
we’re if we aren’t sick, that we’re not going to with influenza that we’re not going to work where we could be transmitting
the virus potentially.>>That’s such an important point. If someone suspects they have the flu, how can they be accurately diagnosed?>>So if someone suspects
they have the flu, they should call their
doctor’s office by telephone. And ideally anybody that has any high risk conditions for more severe influenza should really be calling
their doctor’s office as soon as they have any of these symptoms and the reason for that is as you alluded to, there is an antivirus medication that can be given in the first
couple of days of symptoms.>>How effective are those?>>The effectiveness is varying. It’s likely that they make
the flu virus less severe for certain populations but
the effectiveness is varying and so need prevention is
always going to be better.>>We do have a question and it’s one that I think is of interest to both of us and certainly to one of our viewers. Can you get the flu from the vaccine?>>So this is really a myth. We can’t get the flu
virus from the vaccine. And so when people do feel
that they’re having some minor aches after the vaccine, what
that is is your immune system having a huge response
to inactive flu viruses. And so this is much much
less symptomatically than it ever would be if one actually had the influenza virus. It’s really your body
making those antibodies and priming itself so
that if you do come truly in contact with the influenza virus, your body is ready to
try and fight it off.>>Is it okay to treat those symptoms of having had the flu vaccine with things like acetaminophen?>>Yes, treating the symptoms with things like acetaminophen is absolutely fine. If someone was to have a severe reaction, we would advise them to
contact their doctor’s office or call 911 if there was a really severe unexpected reaction. But for the aches and pains
that we see most commonly, acetaminophen is absolutely fine.>>So you’ve told me then that people can expect perhaps some soreness
or some other mild symptoms if they get the flu vaccine, what else should they expect when
they get a vaccine?>>Well there are, it’s a good opportunity for when people go to
their doctor’s office for their annual flu vaccine
or their yearly flu vaccine to really make sure they’re up to date on all their other vaccinations that are really so important. So one that’s quite commonly indicated is the pneumococcal
vaccination that fights against streptococus pneumoniae which is a bacteria that commonly causes pneumonia or lung infections. And so anytime we go for our flu vaccine, it’s really an opportunity to make sure that we’re up to date on
all the other vaccines and preventative medicine
that we should be availing of.>>I think the CDC, the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has expanded the number of people who ought to
get the flu vaccine, so maybe you would review that for me.>>Really it’s, is there anybody that shouldn’t get the flu vaccine? It’s indicated for
everybody that’s six months of age or older are indicated
to get the flu vaccine. There are certain groups of people that are higher risk that is advocated that they really try
harder or are more likely to benefit from the flu vaccine and they are younger children. And so those over the age of six months but under the age of about five or six and are at higher risk and
should definitely be vaccinated. And then those that are
over 65 years of age, those that are pregnant
are also higher risk so of acquiring the flu vaccine so very important for those
people to get vaccinated. And then really anybody with any medical comorbidity or medical condition, particularly anything related
to the lungs or the heart. So anybody with asthma, anybody with COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or any cardiac or heart conditions. But really the vaccine is indicated for everybody over the age of six months.>>Aren’t there different
types of flu vaccines?>>There are different
types of flu vaccines. There is a shot or
injection type of vaccine that people can get at
their doctor’s office or at their pharmacies and there is also a nasal spray flu vaccine that’s available for certain populations this year. And so I would encourage
people when they’re going for their vaccine to have that discussion at their doctor’s office
or at their pharmacy to see which vaccine is best for them.>>And isn’t there kind of a
super vaccine for older people?>>There is, so for those
over 65 years of age who may have trouble with waning immunity, there is a specific vaccine
for them that should help their immune system protect
them for the duration of that lengthy flu season.>>One of the stories I’ve been hearing is that this year’s flu season is expected to be especially bad and I think that’s based on
what happened in Australia. Why does that make a difference in terms of our flu season?>>Well interestingly
Elizabeth, even every year about 10% of US population
gets sick from the flu. And so that’s a lot of people. What we do is we look at what’s happening in the southern hemisphere who have the flu before us here on
the northern hemisphere due to the seasonal changes
and we can anticipate what we may expect here in
the northern hemisphere. And looking at what’s
happened in Australia, it looks like we may have a
particularly bad flu season in store for us.>>Wow, that’s a little bit scary.>>It is, but again there are things that we can proactively do to try and help protect ourselves
against acquiring the flu or getting sick from the flu and that really goes back
to all those flu vaccines.>>Well, you brought up vaccines again and one of the things
that I’ve been hearing is that this year’s flu vaccine is not a really good
match for the circulating strains for what we’re actually seeing. I’m not sure exactly what that means.>>So every year we try and anticipate what types of flu is
going to be circulating in that year’s seasonal
flu and then we try and engineer the vaccine to make sure that we include those types of flu that we anticipate to be circulating and really have to estimate and make a judgment about what those
circulating flu viruses are going to be. And so sometimes the match
for what we anticipate is going to be circulating and what truly ends up circulating does not match 100%. What we would say though is even if there is not a great match for the virus and the circulating, for the vaccine and the circulating
viruses, getting vaccinated still will help decrease
the severity of illness that you, that someone may get. And so can decrease the
number of hospitalizations and decrease the number of deaths and really decrease the amount of time off school and work. So even though it may
not fully prevent against the flu, it will certainly
make the actual flu symptoms and flu illness much much
much less severe and milder.>>Why can’t we just go
and make more vaccine that’s a better match?>>Ideally we would but it takes time. So the way that the vaccines have to be grown as an egg
culture and this takes a lot of time. And so it’s done in advance and trying to anticipate what circulating
virus, influenza virus types we’re gonna see.>>So that’s why they say
if you have an egg allergy you should be careful
about the flu vaccine.>>Correct, although often sometimes even those with allergies
can get the flu vaccine so I would really
encourage anybody that has an egg allergy to have that discussion at their doctor’s office.>>If somebody suspects they have the flu and they haven’t been able to get treated within a certain period of time, when should they be worried
about their symptoms, worried enough to seek medical care?>>So I think anybody that has any of these high-risk conditions
that we’ve discussed such as the elderly over 65,
pregnant, young children, anybody with any medical
comorbidities or medical problems who’s experiencing these symptoms should certainly call their
doctor’s office straight away. For the rest of the
population that don’t fall into any of those categories,
if they’re having difficulty breathing, if they’re having
extremely high temperatures that are persisting over a couple of days or having a lot of wheezing,
then they should definitely call their doctor’s office and get advice.>>How long does, or should we worry about getting a second infection when we have the flu already? Sometimes I hear people report that wow I have the flu and now I
have another infection.>>So that can certainly happen. Sometimes we get the flu and then that primes us for a
secondary bacterial infection. And so if someone has persisting symptoms or additional symptoms after
having flu-like symptoms for a couple of days such as bringing up productive sputum or a lot of phlegm from your chest that’s a dark color or greenish color, that cold be a sign that there is a secondary
bacterial infection and certainly want to encourage people to call their doctor’s office
and relay those symptoms.>>Let’s say I’m lucky
enough to catch myself in that window and I do get a medicine to combat the flu, how
long is it gonna take me to feel better?>>It really depends. Sometimes people can pick
up quickly from the flu and feel better in a short period of time and sometimes those
feelings of the tiredness and the aching joints
and muscles and feelings of chills can persist for a couple of weeks so it really depends
on each individual person.>>Well you’ve been
incredibly informative, thank you so much. What else would you like to add?>>I think if we haven’t
made it live and clear, the message is to try and get vaccinated and there’s multiple places
that we can get vaccinated. We have the Johns Hopkins
Outpatient Pharmacies who have the vaccinations
and there’s doctor’s offices local pharmacies and so now is the time for us to prepare ourselves
for the upcoming flu season.>>Thank you so very much. Thanks for joining us.
>>Thank you Elizabeth.

2 thoughts on “Prevent the Flu this Season | An Interview with Clare Rock

  1. I have tinnitus (caused my medications), and now I am terrified to get my yearly flu shot. I would probably harm myself if my tinnitus got worse for a 5th time. What have you heard about getting a flu shot and if it could possibly make tinnitus worse? I'm thinking I'm going to skip my flu shot from now on, but I'd like to hear what you think or if you know anything about this. Thank you.

  2. My god there’s no such thing as “flu season”
    Where are you getting your information?
    This is very very sad. You are obviously just doing your job promoting big pharma without looking at any studies and/or ingredients in this toxic poisonous injection.
    Prevention is NOT injecting poisonous toxins into your bloodstream. It’s actually an attack on your immune system and is a NEGATIVE impact on your health.
    Prevention is living a healthy lifestyle by eating healthy nutritious foods as well as vitamins and minerals, with adequate sleep and yes hygiene!
    You do not discuss anything amount nutrition at all, because nope!!! you do not learn this in medical school. You learn pharmaceuticals.
    You are lying!!! To say it is affective for seniors 65 yrs plus is false. To say is a myth that it can cause the flu is a lie!
    You sound like a puppet.
    Why don’t you start reading the actually literature and studies and what the studies are instead of repeating words that you’ve been told. And to say pregnant women should get this vaccine is absolutely appalling. It says in the insert DO NOT ADMINISTER TO PREGNANT WOMEN!
    Wow. How do you sleep at night knowing you’re causing severe illness and/or death.
    How do you feel ok with blood on your hands????
    Stop being a puppet and DO THE RESEARCH. That’s why you became a healthcare provider right?????

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