Get Your Flu Shot This Fall!


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Get a Flu Shot!

Flu season looms! Get your flu shot before the end of October to protect yourself and others throughout the season that can last until next May. If you don’t have time to read the rest of this blog post, STOP READING! Just get your flu shot Kathy’s Urgent Care in Wethersfield or Berlin, CT. No appointment necessary.

Who Should Get a Flu Shot?

More than 80,000 people died during the 2017-18 flu season (in recent years, the number of deaths has varied from 30,000 to 50,000). Therefore, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), everyone over the age of 6 months should get a flu shot.

·      Pregnant women are especially at risk and should be vaccinated. The flu vaccine also protects their unborn fetus from the flu—an especially important consideration, since children younger than 6 months should not receive a flu shot.

o   The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) stated in September, “Influenza vaccination is an essential element of prenatal care because pregnant women are at an increased risk of serious illness and mortality due to influenza. In addition, maternal vaccination is the most effective strategy to protect newborns because the vaccine is not approved for use in infants younger than six months.”

·      Children from 6 months to 18 years of age should get a flu shot. Children who receive their first vaccination will require two shots, 28 days apart. The CDC recommends against receiving a nasal spray vaccination.

·      Persons 65 years of age and older usually have weaker immune systems and should get a high-dose shot that protects against 4 strains of flu virus. They should also get a pneumococcal vaccination to protect against serious strains of pneumonia, since the elderly account for 85% of deaths due to flu and complications from pneumonia.

·      Anyone with a compromised immune system is especially at risk for the flu and should be vaccinated.

Note: Persons who are allergic to any component of the vaccine (for example, eggs), who had a severe allergic reaction to the vaccine in the past, who have had Guillain-Barré Syndrome (also called GBS), or who are not feeling well should discuss with their health provider whether they should receive the flu vaccine or what type of vaccine might be appropriate for them.

When Should You Get a Flu Shot?

For the 2018-19 flu season, the answer is simple: NOW! Patients are already beginning to show up at our clinics with flu (or West Nile) symptoms. It is impossible to predict just when a flu epidemic will begin, but there will be one and it is likely to be severe again. The vaccine takes 2-3 weeks to become effective. Therefore, the CDC recommends getting your flu shot before the end of October.

What Kind of Flu Shot Should You Get?

There are different types of flu vaccines that have been approved by the FDA for general use. To keep things simple, you should be aware of two main alternatives:

·      Most children and adults can get a trivalent shot—one that protects against three major flu viruses.

·      Persons 65 and older should get a high-dose, quadrivalent shot—one that protects against an additional flu virus strain and in a higher dose because of their declining immune system.

For more complete answers to this question, please consult the “Frequently Asked Questions” page on the CDC website.

What Are the Side Effects of a Flu Shot?

You cannot get the flu from the flu vaccine. Some people, however, might experience mild side effects that include soreness, redness, or swelling at the injection site. About 1-2% of those receiving a flu shot will experience a low-grade fever.

Rarely, more serious side effects result from an allergic reaction to one of the ingredients in the vaccine. Symptoms can include difficulty breathing, swelling around the eyes or lips, hives, racing heart, dizziness and high fever. If you develop any of these symptoms, seek medical attention.

Remember, you cannot get the flu from a flu shot. Because the vaccine takes 2-3 weeks to become effective, however, you can get the flu after you have had a flu shot. Further, since the vaccine is not effective against all strains of the flu, you can still get the flu from a strain against which you are not immunized. In those cases, your experience of the flu will probably be milder.

More about other questions will appear in a later post. If you have concerns about yourself or a family member getting a flu shot, call us at Kathy’s Urgent Care. We’re here to help.

School Sports and Concussion

If you are a parent of a student athlete, this back-to-school reminder is for you.

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As school athletic teams gear up for fall and winter, it’s time to think about concussions: how to prevent them and what to do when they happen. Every parent, coach, and school official should make this part of their back-to-school routine.

When sports-related concussion is mentioned, most people immediately think of boys’ football or ice hockey. But while these sports produce the highest rate of concussion, girls are also at risk.

As reported last year by The Atlantic, Olivia Hayward, a 90-pound high school varsity soccer player, got knocked to the ground. At first, she worried about her injured wrist. But a few days later, she had no appetite, was bothered by light, and had a throbbing headache. She failed the simple test for concussion that her coach had her take. Her doctor finally determined that she had suffered whiplash and a concussion, her second. She missed 3 weeks of school, and her parents had to read her assignments to her. And she was among the lucky ones.

Concussion Suspected?

When student athletes display or report symptoms associated with concussion, most coaches remove them from play until a medical professional has conducted an examination. The general rule is, “When in doubt, sit them out.” Follow-up for a few days or weeks by a licensed health care provider is often recommended. Nearly all states require these measures by law.

Most children and teens will be able to return gradually to school and sports activities. Sometimes after severe or repeated concussion, support services are needed. Because a concussion is a bruising of the brain, it can affect learning and mood. Teachers might need to tailor assignments and exams to accommodate concussed students. School officials, teachers, educational specialists, school nurses, coaches, and parents should work together as a team to make sure that a student’s returning to school and/or sports activities occurs smoothly and is monitored.

Bottom line: Whenever you suspect a student athlete has suffered a concussion, have a licensed health care provider (physician or physician assistant) evaluate the situation.

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Important resource: The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) provides much useful information, including several videos, for parents, athletes, coaches, teachers, school officials, health providers, and others about sports-related concussion. Become informed and get involved!

Reducing Risk of Concussion

Risk of concussion varies by sport and, to some extent, by sex (girls might be at greater risk than boys in sports played by both). The following measures can reduce risk.

  • Athletes must wear protective equipment that is in good condition and appropriate for each activity. Be sure that it fits. (Remember: a person can still have a concussion even if wearing a helmet.)
  • Make sure that coaches limit hard physical contact especially during practice.
  • Check with school officials that their policies and procedures regarding concussion—both prevention and concussive events—reflect best practice and not just state law.
  • Ensure that your son or daughter understands the importance of following safety rules, and tell them to let you know if they have suffered any blow to the head during their sports activity.
  • Join others in making sure that state law, education regulations, and athletic rules incorporate the recommendations of experts in traumatic brain injury and its prevention.

A Final Word

Concussion is one form of traumatic brain injury that is widespread and serious. At Kathy’s Urgent Care, we evaluate one to two patients per week for concussion from all sources (falls, vehicle accidents, workplace injuries, sports activities, etc.).

For more information about symptoms and other aspects of traumatic brain injury, please see our previous blog post on this topic.

5 Urgent Care Myths Debunked

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Have you noticed? Delivery of health care services is changing! When trying get the health care you deserve, when you need it, and at affordable cost, you might be confused by all the options, including urgent care. Myths about urgent care have gone viral, preventing many folks from choosing the best alternative. As you decide what’s best for you and your family, don’t be hoodwinked by these common misunderstandings.

Myth #1. Urgent Care and Emergency Room Care Are the Same

While it is true that urgent care centers and hospital emergency departments both treat acute or urgent injuries and illnesses, persons who suffer from a truly life-threatening condition should go to an emergency room or call 911.

Urgent care centers treat most non-life-threatening injuries and illnesses, including broken bones, sprains, cuts, strep throat, bronchitis, allergic reactions, eye and ear infections, low back pain, headaches, nausea, and many more. Waiting times are nearly always shorter and cost is lower than with ERs.

The following chart of symptoms can help you decide where to get the most appropriate care.

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Myth #2. Urgent Care Staff Are Less Qualified

Be assured that all clinical staff at urgent care centers receive the same training as clinical staff in hospitals and family practices. A supervising physician is always present or on call. Other providers such as physician assistants (PAs), advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), and medical assistants (MAs) must be credentialed and licensed according to state law.

Some urgent care centers also provide specialized clinical services such as orthopedic or pediatric care. When necessary, urgent care centers will refer patients to an appropriate specialist and will often arrange an appointment for a patient more quickly.

Myth #3. Urgent Care Costs More

In nearly all cases, treatment at an urgent care center costs less than at other locations. Because emergency departments must cover high overhead costs for sophisticated equipment and 24-hour staff, charges for ER treatment can be very high. This can be a problem especially if your health insurance plan carries a high deductible amount.

Urgent care centers accept most insurance coverage. Even if your plan carries a high deductible, your insurance will generally lower your out-of-pocket cost. If you have no insurance or choose not to use it, your urgent care center will usually charge a modest flat fee for treatment.

Bottom line: Urgent care fees are nearly always lower than emergency department or family practice fees.

Myth #4. Urgent Care Centers Only Treat Minor Ailments

While urgent care centers do treat minor ailments, the term “urgent care” can be misleading. Most urgent care centers also offer preventative health care such as screenings for disease, general physical examinations, and vaccinations (flu, MMR, Hepatitis, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis, Pneumonia, Polio, etc.).

Physical exams are offered for immigration, employment (DOT/CDL exams, drug testing, etc.), and school or sports requirements.  They also provide testing and treatment for STDs.

Urgent care centers usually have X-ray equipment and laboratories on site and can dispense routine medications.

Myth #5. Urgent Care Centers Don’t Interact with Other Health Care Providers

If you are concerned that your primary care physician won’t be informed about your urgent care visit, relax. Urgent care providers communicate regularly with family physicians, specialists, and hospitals. A complete record of your visit will be available to other providers as needed.

If there is any question about the nature of your care, the urgent care provider can contact your regular physician or specialist for consultation.

You can also rest assured that your health care privacy will be protected as required by federal and state law. Only other providers and your health insurance carrier(s) will have access to your records if necessary and as authorized by you.

Video Discussion

We are now posting live video discussions of important health care topics on Facebook and YouTube. To learn more about urgent care from Dr. Thomas Brown, check out the recent video on Facebook in which he announces the opening of a third Kathy’s Urgent Care clinic in Berlin, Connecticut. Learn why urgent care is expanding and how it can serve you and your family.