The flu is a viral infection that is spread from person to person in secretions of the nose and lungs, for example when sneezing. Medically it is referred to as influenza. Flu is a respiratory infection that develops primarily in the lungs. Respiratory infections caused by other viruses often are called flu, but this is incorrect. Influenza usually causes higher fever, more malaise, and severe body aches. Although other viruses may cause these symptoms, they do so less commonly. The flu is a common illness. Every year in the United States, on average: 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications, and about 36,000 people die from the flu.
Why vaccinate for the flu?
The flu is highly infectious and is a serious viral respiratory infection. Whereas with other viral respiratory infections the symptoms usually are mild and most people can continue working or going to school. While ill with the flu, the symptoms are severe and prolonged and cause individuals to miss days of work or school.
The infection stresses the body. In addition, superinfections may occur. Superinfections are bacterial infections that occur on top of a respiratory infection. Bacterial respiratory infections also are a serious type of infection, and the simultaneous viral and bacterial infection can overwhelm the function of the lungs and the body.
Among the elderly and the very young, it can cause death. Because of its infectiousness, morbidity (severity of symptoms and time lost from work or school), and the potential for death, it is important to prevent the flu by vaccination. Although there are medications to treat the flu, they are expensive, not as effective as vaccination, and need to be started within 24-48 hours of the start of symptoms.
What is the flu vaccine?
The Flu vaccine is an inactivated vaccine, meaning that it contains killed influenza virus. The killed influenza virus is injected into muscles and stimulates the immune system to produce an immune response (antibodies) to the influenza virus. When the virus enters a person who has been vaccinated, the antibodies attack and kill the virus and prevent infection.
Each year, the influenza virus can change slightly, making the vaccine used in previous years ineffective. Each year, a new vaccine must be prepared that will be effective against the expected type of influenza virus. The vaccine is generally effective against the influenza virus within two weeks of the injection. The vaccine is only effective against the strains of the virus that match the vaccine. These strains vary from flu season to flu season each year. This is the reason that revaccination is required annually with the vaccine that matches the strains of influenza that are currently prevalent.
Flu season can begin in October and last as late as May. October and November are considered the best times to receive the vaccination, but it is still effective when administered later. Flu vaccination does not protect against infection caused by microbes other than the influenza virus.
What is pneumococcal vaccination?
Pneumococcal vaccination is a method of preventing a specific type of lung infection (pneumonia) that is caused by Pneumococcus bacterium. There are more than 80 different types of pneumococcus bacteria-23 of these are covered in the current vaccination. The vaccine is injected into the body to stimulate the normal immune system to produce antibodies that are directed against pneumococcus bacteria. This method of stimulating the normal immune system to be directed against a specific microbe is called immunization.
Pneumococcal vaccination is also referred to as Pneumococcal immunization. Pneumococcal vaccination does not protect against pneumonia caused by microbes other than pneumococcus bacteria, nor does it protect against pneumococcal bacteria strains not included in the vaccine. It is reassuring do note that of the 80 different serotypes, the vast majority of infections are caused by the 23 serotypes contained in the vaccine.
Who should consider pneumococcal vaccination?
Pneumococcal vaccination should be considered by people in the following groups:
- Adults 65 years of age and older.
- Persons > 2 years of age with chronic heart or lung disorders including congestive heart failure, diabetes mellitus, chronic liver disease, alcoholism, spinal fluid leaks, cardiomyopathy, chronic bronchitis or emphysema (COPD) or emphysema.
- Persons > 2 years of age with spleen dysfunction (such as sickle cell disease) or lack of spleen function (asplenia), blood malignancy (leukemia), multiple myeloma, kidney failure, organ transplantation or immunosuppressive conditions, including HIV infection.
- Alaskan natives and certain American Indian populations. If elective surgical removal of the spleen (splenectomy) or immunosuppressive therapy is planned, the vaccine is given two weeks prior to the procedure, if possible.
The pneumococcal vaccine should not be received by persons with a prior history of hypersensitivity reactions to the vaccine. The safety of PPV during the first trimester of pregnancy has not been evaluated. Pregnant women or those contemplating pregnancy should consult their doctors for additional information.
TB Skin Test
The most commonly used diagnostic tool for TB is a simple skin test. Although there are two methods, doctors consider the Mantoux test the more accurate.
For the Mantoux test, a small amount of a substance called PPD tuberculin is injected within the skin of your inside forearm. You should feel only a slight needle prick. Within 48 to 72 hours, a health care professional will check your arm for a local reaction to the injected material. Depending on your response, the test is diagnosed as positive or negative. A positive response — usually shown by a hard, raised bump at the injection site — means you’re likely to have TB infection.
ADACEL vaccine has been designed specifically to protect adolescents and adults 11 through 64 years from tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. It is similar to DAPTACEL® (Diphtheria and Tetanus Toxoid and Acellular Pertussis Vaccine Adsorbed), a diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccine used to protect infants and young children.
In clinical studies, DAPTACEL vaccine has been shown to provide1:
- 85% efficacy against severe pertussis (cough lasting 21 days or longer)
- 78% efficacy against all severities of pertussis