Even though nearly half of the United States (U.S.) population gets a flu vaccine annually, the impact of influenza remains high. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), the flu costs the U.S. more than $87 billion annually and is responsible for the loss of close to 17 million workdays each flu season. Tens of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands die from flu-related illnesses each year in the U.S.
Sentry BioPharma Services gears up for the 2016 flu season by promoting three strategies to combat illness:
- Get the 2016 flu vaccine.
- Exercise good health habits.
- See your doctor for an antiviral medication to treat the flu if you get sick.
Flu Vaccine Facts
The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. Trivalent vaccines are made to protect against three flu viruses; an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus, and an influenza B virus. Quadrivalent vaccines protect against four viruses; the same viruses as the trivalent vaccine as well as an additional B virus.
Flu vaccines CANNOT cause the flu. Flu vaccines are made with either killed or weakened viruses.
Flu vaccines are safe. Serious problems from the flu vaccine are very rare. The most common side effect that a person is likely to experience is either soreness at the injection site, or runny nose in the case of nasal spray. These side effects are generally mild and usually go away after a day or two. Visit Influenza Vaccine Safety for more information.
Can the flu be treated?
Yes. There are prescription medications called “antiviral drugs” that can be used to treat influenza illness.
What are antiviral drugs?
Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid, an inhaled powder, or an intravenous solution) that fight against the flu in your body. Antiviral drugs are not sold over-the-counter. You can only get them if you have a prescription from your doctor or health care provider. Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics, which fight against bacterial infections.
What should I do if I think I have the flu?
If you get the flu, antiviral drugs are a treatment option. Check with your doctor promptly if you have a high risk condition and you get flu symptoms. Flu symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Your doctor may prescribe antiviral drugs to treat your flu illness.
Should I still get a flu vaccine?
Yes. Antiviral drugs are a second line of defense to treat the flu if you get sick. A flu vaccine is still the first and best way to prevent influenza.
What are the benefits of antiviral drugs?
When used for treatment, antiviral drugs can lessen symptoms and shorten the time you are sick by 1 or 2 days. They also can prevent serious flu complications, like pneumonia. For people with a high risk medical condition, treatment with an antiviral drug can mean the difference between having milder illness instead of very serious illness that could result in a hospital stay.
What are the possible side effects of antiviral drugs?
Some side effects have been associated with the use of flu antiviral drugs, including nausea, vomiting, dizziness, runny or stuffy nose, cough, diarrhea, headache and some behavioral side effects. These are uncommon. Your doctor can give you more information about these drugs or you can check the CDC or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) websites.
When should antiviral drugs be taken for treatment?
Studies show that flu antiviral drugs work best for treatment when they are started within 2 days of getting sick. However, starting them later can still be helpful, especially if the sick person has a high risk health condition or is very sick from the flu. Follow instructions for taking these drugs.
What antiviral drugs are recommended this flu season?
There are three FDA-approved influenza antiviral drugs recommended by CDC this season to treat influenza. The brand names for these are Tamiflu® (generic name oseltamivir), Relenza® (generic name zanamivir), and Rapivab® (generic name peramivir). Tamiflu® is available as a pill or liquid and Relenza® is a powder that is inhaled. (Relenza® is not for people with breathing problems like asthma or COPD, for example.) Rapivab® is administered intravenously by a health care provider.
How long should antiviral drugs be taken?
To treat the flu, Tamiflu® and Relenza® are usually prescribed for 5 days, although people hospitalized with the flu may need the medicine for longer than 5 days. Rapivab® is administered intravenously for 15 to 30 minutes.
Secure GMP storage and flu vaccine distribution services protect your refrigerated inventory throughout the temperature-controlled supply chain. For more information about how Sentry’s vaccine storage and proven vaccine management system can protect your vaccine throughout the global supply chain, contact Sentry via email or by phone at 1-866-757-7400.