” The climate has definitely changed. Leaves have fallen and the air is chiller. Children are going to school with heavier coats, gloves and mittens. Besides coming home with extra homework in their backpacks, they will also be coming home with new so-called friends though these friends will not be the ones you want sleeping over! Along with pink eye, strep throat and ringworm, there is a new and dangerous friend definitely do not want your children playing with…INFLUENZA.

Influenza is a virus that causes the flu which comparing to the common cold can eventually turn into a respiratory infection and even cause death. Influenza hits from November through May but usually strikes in January and February. Hispanics are most targeted by influenza due to poverty, unawareness of this virus and being uninsured which leaves mothers and children unprotected and vulnerable at times. However, the influenza vaccine is being offered nationwide covered by most insurance and provided at Roya Family Medical Center in Melrose Park for the uninsured at an affordable price.

The Influenza vaccine protects against three different types of influenza virus which include: Influenza A(H1N1), A(H3N2) and B. This vaccine helps protect from the influenza virus by developing antibodies that fight the flu virus and providing immunity which occurs two weeks after vaccinated, if not rejected by the body. The Influenza virus is contagious, transmitted through air born particles such as sneezing nasal secretions and coughing. So people should avoid rubbing their eyes, nose and mouth if around an infected person and most importantly avoid contact with those that are sick.

The Influenza vaccine is given by injection intramuscular and should be given to all people 6 months of age and older, pregnant women, healthcare personnel and elderly. side effects may happen after being vaccinated such us soreness, redness, swelling around injection area, cough, fever, and body aches, red and itchy eyes, which usually start and last a couple of days after vaccination.

Those who have allergic reactions to eggs or previous allergic reaction to the influenza vaccine, chronic illness, have been vaccinated in the past four weeks or have fever should notify their physician prior to vaccination. People with severe reaction to the influenza vaccine lasting more than 5 days should notify their doctor immediately.

As a doctor and mother I strongly advise that parents choose to get their children vaccinated. Many people have lost loved ones due to Swine Flu. The influenza vaccine prevents further respiratory diseases, hospitalizations and infections. I recommend all adults especially elderly, pregnant women, children 6 months and older as well as people with chronic health conditions get vaccinated.

Roya Family Medical Center offers the Influenza vaccine with no appointment necessary.”

Michelle J. Alexandre, MD