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Dr. Dale Block Promotes Protection Against Mutating Influenza Viruses

Premier HealthNet Physician Explains the Importance of Flu Shots

DAYTON, Ohio (October 5, 2012) – As winter approaches, constantly changing influenza viruses will be making their way across the globe. Mutated from previous years’ strains, the viruses annually infect millions, lead to thousands of deaths and many more hospitalizations.

“The symptoms of flu are fever, chills, cough, sore throat, headaches, muscle aches, fatigue, and congestion,” says Dale Block, MD, a Premier HealthNet physician at Premier Family Care of Mason. “We know that the flu can also cause pneumonia and can make existing medical conditions worse.”

The best defense is an annual flu shot designed to fight off the latest mutations, says Dr. Block. 

“Cold and flu viruses mutate in order to survive, and we change the vaccine in response,” says Dr. Block. “It continuously reminds us that we need to get the flu shot annually, because the flu shot does not guarantee a lifetime of immunity.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu viruses have their greatest impact during cold-weather months. That’s because everyone is indoors and in close contact, Dr. Block says, which facilitates influenza’s spread.

In the U.S., the CDC has found that flu activity can begin as early as October, peak in January or February and continue into late May. Flu viruses typically originate in the Far East and move west across the globe, Dr. Block says. But, he adds, with global air travel being quite common, “all bets are off.”

“That’s why we recommend you get the vaccine as soon as it becomes available,” Dr. Block says. “We used to wait, but since the vaccines are much better and we know that it provides year-long protection, as soon as it becomes available in the fall, I recommend everybody get it.”

Dr. Block cautions, however, that last year’s flu shot won’t offer protection against this year’s strain. That’s because each shot is formulated for that specific year’s three most-common strains.

“The risks of a flu shot are mild – soreness or redness where the shot is given,” Dr. Block says. “Some people wonder if they get the flu from the flu shot, and the answer is no, because you’re not getting a live virus.”

In rare instances some patients may have an allergic reaction to the flu; symptoms include breathing problems, hoarseness or wheezing, hives, paleness, weakness, a fast heartbeat, or dizziness.  Patients who think they may have an allergy to the flu vaccine should talk to a primary care physician before the vaccine is administered.

Dr. Block notes that there are many places for Southwest Ohioans to get a flu shot once they’re available, including Premier HealthNet physician offices. For more information on the flu vaccine, prevention methods or to contact a Premier HealthNet primary care physician, visit www.premierhealthnet.com/doctor.