Important Flu Season Update from Your Concierge Doctors in Jupiter

As your trusted Concierge Doctors in Jupiter, we are committed to keeping you informed about health concerns that might affect our community. This year, we face a challenging flu season that has seen a significant rise in influenza cases and other respiratory illnesses across 38 states, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This update is particularly relevant as we navigate the period between Christmas and New Year’s, which has shown a dramatic increase in flu activity.

The CDC’s latest report is alarming yet crucial for our awareness: since October, there have been at least 10 million flu-related illnesses, leading to 110,000 hospitalizations and 6,500 deaths. These figures emphasize the severity of the current flu season, which generally peaks between December and February.

On a more reassuring note, the CDC director has confirmed that this year’s flu shots are well-matched to combat the prevalent strain. This is a significant factor in controlling the spread and severity of the flu, and we strongly encourage you to get vaccinated if you haven’t already.

In our local area, including our practice in Jupiter, pediatricians have noted an increase in respiratory illnesses among children and young adults up to age 21. Reflecting on the situation at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, Dr. Megan Martin mentions, “We’re still seeing RSV and COVID as well. It’s keeping our emergency department pretty busy with all of these respiratory illnesses.”

In December, the hospital reported a rise in flu A and B cases, with 431 instances, and more than 185 cases of RSV. Additionally, 61 patients tested positive for COVID-19. Dr. Martin compares this to pre-pandemic years, noting that while it’s not the worst flu season, it is notably rigorous compared to the pandemic years when mask-wearing reduced transmission significantly.

At our Concierge Doctors office in Jupiter, we are closely monitoring these developments and are here to support your health needs during this flu season. We advise our patients to take preventive measures such as getting vaccinated, practicing good hygiene, and being mindful of symptoms. If you or your family members are experiencing flu-like symptoms, please reach out to us for guidance and treatment options.

Our priority is your health and well-being. By staying informed and proactive, we can collectively navigate through this flu season safely. Remember, we are here to assist you with any health concerns you may have.

Flu Cases on the Rise: A Concern for Public Health

The United States is currently experiencing an uptick in flu cases, a trend that has caught the attention of health officials nationwide. This rise in flu cases is a typical occurrence during the colder months, but the intensity and spread of the flu can vary from year to year.

Understanding RSV

Alongside the flu, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is another viral respiratory illness that often peaks during the fall and winter months. While RSV is most commonly known to affect infants and young children, it can also impact adults, especially those with weakened immune systems or chronic health conditions.

Health Officials’ Response

U.S. health officials are monitoring these trends closely. They emphasize the importance of preventative measures such as vaccinations, good hygiene practices, and staying informed about local health advisories.

What This Means for the Public

The simultaneous rise in flu cases and the peaking of RSV infections create a dual challenge for healthcare systems and the public. It underscores the need for increased vigilance and adherence to health guidelines to prevent the spread of these respiratory illnesses.

Staying Informed and Prepared

Individuals must stay updated with information from reliable sources and adhere to public health recommendations. Vaccination, hand washing, avoiding close contact with sick individuals, and wearing masks in crowded places are some of the effective ways to reduce the risk of infection.

Flu Season Preparation: Creating a Personalized Flu Prevention Plan

Flu season can bring about a flurry of sniffles, coughs, and body aches which are often accompanied by a flurry of doctor’s appointments and sick days. It tends to peak between December and February but can last from October to as late as May. Preparing for this time of year is essential in not only protecting your own health but also the health of those around you. The key to this preparation is crafting a personalized flu prevention plan. Our primary care doctors in Jupiter have some tips on how you can create yours:

Step 1: Know Your Risk

Some individuals are at a higher risk for severe flu and complications. This includes young children, pregnant women, individuals with chronic health conditions, and people aged 65 and older. Understanding your risk will help you take the necessary precautions.

Step 2: Get Vaccinated

The annual flu vaccine is the most effective way to prevent flu. It is advisable for everyone six months and older to get a flu vaccine every year. Make sure to consult with your healthcare provider to find the right flu vaccine for you.

Step 3: Practice Good Hygiene

Good hygiene is a powerful tool in preventing the flu. Make sure to:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.


Step 4: Boost Your Immune System

Maintaining a strong immune system can help ward off the flu. Ensure you are:

  • Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.
  • Getting regular exercise.
  • Sleeping for 7-9 hours each night.
  • Managing stress through mindfulness practices like meditation or yoga.


Step 5: Avoid Close Contact

Avoid close contact with individuals who are sick, and if you are feeling unwell, stay home to prevent spreading the flu to others.

Step 6: Seek Medical Advice

If you’re at high risk for flu complications or have severe flu symptoms, contact your healthcare provider. Antiviral drugs can be a treatment option.

Step 7: Create a Sick-Day Plan

Have a plan in place for managing sick days whether it’s for you or your family. Know your employer’s policies on sick leave and have a plan for childcare if necessary.

Conclusion:

Facing the flu season unprepared can be daunting. However, by understanding your risk and having a personalized flu prevention plan in place, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of falling ill. Remember, a little preparation now can save a lot of trouble later. Your health and the health of those around you is worth the effort.

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Experts Predict a Severe Flu Season, So Get Vaccinated Now

If you hear the word “vaccine” and automatically think of COVID-19, our concierge primary care doctors in Jupiter don’t blame you. But there’s another virus lurking on our shores: the annual influenza outbreak, which deserves our attention now.

You can be forgiven for thinking we no longer had to worry about the flu because, for the last two years, it all but disappeared. This is largely due to all the hand washing, social distancing, and mask-wearing we practiced during the pandemic.

But unfortunately, those sensible health precautions are pretty much behind us now, and all signs point to a worse-than-normal flu season. In fact, we’ve already seen scattered reports of cases around the country. And remember that many cases go unreported because people typically recover at home without being officially tested and recorded.

Ominous Signs

The reason experts are expecting a more severe 2022-23 flu season is that they’re looking to Australia, which undergoes its flu season before ours. 

That country is just concluding its worst season in five years, with cases reported to be three times higher than normal. Their season also began two months sooner than it typically does, meaning it is expected to arrive sooner than usual here, as well.

“The Southern Hemisphere has had a pretty bad flu season, and it came on early,” Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Bloomberg News late last month.

“Influenza, as we all have experienced over many years, can be a serious disease,” he added, “particularly when you have a bad season.”

Dr. Frank Esper, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the Cleveland Clinic, echoed those warnings.

“This year we expect it to be a very big flu season and that the flu season [will be] even worse in the younger groups [than] it was in years past,” he told Cleveland’s Fox8. 

We’re Not Prepared

For the last two years, we have rightly been focused on avoiding COVID-19, which has killed well over one million Americans to date. But influenza also presents a danger, especially to very young, pregnant women, those with chronic conditions, and the elderly.

In 2019, the last year that we actually had a notable flu season, nearly 61,000 Americans died from the flu, including 129 children. There were approximately 42.9 million cases of the flu, with 647,000 of those requiring hospitalizations. And that was considered a mild season (although it was the longest season in a decade, beginning in October and ending in May).

In addition, because of the demise of COVID-19 restrictions in general, we could get hit even harder.

“The thought is when the COVID pandemic hit, we started masking up and everyone started socially distancing, schools were closed for a whole year,” Esper said.

“Flu just nose-dived. It almost got to the point where there was no flu.” 

But because we haven’t been exposed to it lately, we are even more vulnerable to its effects, making it harder to fight off.

“Usually, we see the flu every year. Our immune systems are ready for it. When you haven’t seen the flu in two or three years, that means our immune systems may be a little slower,” he explained.

Double Whammy?

Then there’s the possibility of a “twindemic,” or a severe flu season that strikes at the same time as an uptick in coronavirus activity. This is a distinct possibility because both viruses tend to increase circulation when people spend more time indoors in the colder months, and immunity from earlier vaccinations or infections is beginning to wane, especially in those who haven’t had a recent coronavirus booster.

In fact, we’ve already seen an increase in COVID-19 cases across the country in the last two weeks, according to data provided by the Mayo Clinic.

So the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that getting a flu shot this year is recommended as “the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses,” while at the same time reducing the burden of flu hospitalizations and deaths.

“An influx of hospitalizations from COVID-19 and the flu could stress the healthcare system and impact staffing if any healthcare workers are out sick,” Soniya Gandhi, associate chief medical officer at Cedars-Sinai, told Cedars-Sinai Newsroom.

The Time is Now

Because of all the signs that the flu season here could start early, it’s important to receive your vaccine as soon as possible, since it takes at least two weeks to achieve full immunity.

“The bottom line is that you don’t want to wait until you’re already going to be at risk of getting influenza to get vaccinated,” Dr. Albert Ko, an infectious disease physician and professor of public health, epidemiology, and medicine at Yale School of Public Health, told NBC’s TODAY.

And we’ve seen with COVID-19 that vaccines work to reduce the severity of such illnesses, not only in individuals but also in those around them who either can’t receive the vaccine or who don’t respond well to it.

Remember that if you haven’t yet received your omicron booster, you can get both shots at the same time, one in each arm.

“The flu and COVID-19 vaccinations are important on a personal level, and they’re critical from a public health standpoint,” Gandhi said.

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