Doctors recommend flu shots soon

Published 9:31 pm Saturday, December 9, 2017

With holiday plans in motion and a rising number of sick patients in Virginia, doctors are recommending patients get their flu vaccines as soon as possible.

The Virginia Department of Health Weekly Influenza Activity Report reported “widespread” activity for the week ending on Dec. 2, which represents outbreaks of influenza or increases in influenza-like illnesses in at least half of the regions of the state, according to the report.

That’s why doctors in Suffolk are still beating the drum to get patients vaccinated.

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“During late October and early November, I started seeing more and more flu,” said Dr. Paa-Kofi Obeng with Nansemond Suffolk Family Practice. “It’s kind of tapered off a little bit at this time, but I’m sure it’s going to come back around end of December.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention designated the first week in December as National Influenza Vaccination Week to remind patients that it’s still not too late to get a flu vaccine.

Last flu season, only about 40 percent of U.S. citizens were reported as having been vaccinated by the end of November, according to the CDC. This is especially treacherous when citizens begin to travel for the holidays.

“The more people that are immunized, the less likely the flu will spread,” Obeng said.

Young children, pregnant women, patients with chronic health conditions and people at least 65 years old are at high risk of serious flu complications.

Even if someone has already gotten sick with the flu, that patient can still benefit from vaccination, as it protects against three or four different flu viruses, according to the CDC.

Patients usually require two weeks after vaccination to develop antibodies against infection, so don’t wait.

“It’s a very safe vaccination that I recommend it to all my patients,” Obeng said.