And Before You Go Some Good News
In early December, The Redding Record Searchlight wrote about a surprising musical talent a masterful cellist who lives on the streets.
Alissa Johnson, 33, has been playing cello since she was 11 and was described as a musical genius. Unable to afford a new instrument outright, she bought a custom-made cello for $7,300 on credit earlier this year.
After the newspaper article published, Johnson got word that an anonymous reader wanted to pay off her cello. She still owed $6,649.
I wish I could give them a hug, like 1,000 hugs or maybe how about like 6,600 hugs, Johnson told The Redding Record Searchlight.
Thanks for reading. Ill be back tomorrow. Soumya
P.S. Heres todays Mini Crossword, and a clue: Bit of improv practice .
Jack Kramer and Mariel Wamsley contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at .
How Effective Is The Flu Vaccine
The first thing to remember is that a flu vaccination isnt a silver bullet. Its tweaked every year to combat new strains of the virus, but depending on how close the match is, its effectiveness can vary dramatically. In 2017-18, for example, the flu vaccination was relatively poor, and as a result, we saw record-breaking rates of hospitalizations and higher than average fatalities.
In general, vaccinations can reduce your risk of falling ill by 40 to 60%. Thats great, but its not foolproof. There are a few other things you can do to boost your bodys immune system and natural defenses, including exercise, getting plenty of sleep, and eating healthy food like fruit and vegetables.
And its not just about you. Getting a flu shot can help protect people around you. As the CDC says in their key facts about flu season, getting vaccinated yourself may also protect people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like babies and young children, older people, and people with certain chronic health conditions.
The good news in the U.S. is that federal law requires flu shots be covered by insurance with no copay or coinsurance charge. And if you dont have insurance? Lifehacker has tips on low-cost flu shot options.
We hope you now have a pretty good sense of how to navigate flu season. For a few more ways to beat the big sick, take a look at our Cold and Flu Season Survival Guide.
Can You Still Get The Flu Out Of Season Though
In a word, yesthe flu can technically circulate all year long, meaning you can get the flu anytime, says Dr. Bhuyan. Its just less like to be transmitted to large numbers of people during the off-season. Additionally, when its summer in the Northern Hemisphere, its winter in the Southern Hemisphere so if you travel to a place like Australia during their winter, you can definitely pick up the flu.
Cases of the flu begin to pick up around October, peak in December through February, and can last until May.
However, the virus isnt as strong during the warmer seasons, and people arent as susceptible, so its generally pretty rare, adds LaTasha Perkins, MD, a family physician in Washington D.C.
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Where Do I Get The Flu Vaccine
It’s offered at doctor offices, clinics, health departments, college health centers, pharmacies, and some schools, among other locations.
Many insurance plans pay for the annual vaccination, and older adults covered under Medicare Part B can get the vaccine free, with no copay or deductible.
To find a source for vaccines in your area, go to the Vaccine Finder .
Can The Flu Shot Make You Sick
Despite the medical communitys advice to get flu-vaccinated, a large portion of the public remains skeptical. In early December 2018, a survey conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago revealed that 41 percent of adults had not yet been vaccinated and did not intend to do so.
When asked why they were declining to get vaccinated, adults were most likely to cite concerns about:
- Side effects from the flu
- Getting sick from the vaccine
- The effectiveness of a flu shot
Youve no doubt heard people say , Just getting a flu shot can make me sick, cant it? Actually, no, as Dr. Turner explains.
The vaccination is a killed virus and cannot give you the flu, she says. As with any vaccine , it is normal to have mild soreness or redness around the injection site. Also, a mild fever or body aches may develop for one to two days, but thats only a normal immune responseand not the flu itself.
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How Can I Protect Myself From The Flu
Avoid people who are sick with flu-like symptoms.
Stay home if you have flu-like symptoms to avoid getting others sick.
Wash your hands often with soap and water.
Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze.
Avoid touching your face, eyes, and mouth.
Regularly clean and disinfect commonly used surfaces.
All these measures will help, but getting the flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself from influenza illness and complications. The flu vaccine is safe and effective for most people. Talk to your healthcare provider about getting the flu vaccine before the flu season begins.
How To Stay Safe From Both The Flu And Covid
First, get your flu shot. It’s the easiest way to reduce your chances of contracting the virus. As White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci told NBC News on Sept. 9: “We don’t want to have a bad flu season complicating what we’re seeing already with Covid-19.”
At this point in the pandemic, many hospitals around the country are overwhelmed by Covid cases. Your flu shot could help you avoid hospitalization for non-Covid reasons, an easy way to help relieve some of that strain.
If you have health insurance, you can get a free flu shot at most pharmacies, as well as many health clinics, colleges and workplaces. If you don’t have insurance, you can expect to pay around $40 for the shot, or as much as $74 if you require an egg-free version of the vaccine due to an allergy.
Second, after getting your flu shot, be strict about wearing a mask in public places and maintaining good hand hygiene, especially after coughing and sneezing. If you’re sick, stay home and avoid close contact with other people to prevent the spread.
Like Covid, the flu spreads primarily through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. In rare cases, the virus can spread on surfaces. Many people are more lax now about wearing masks and social distancing compared with last year, which could lead to an earlier and more dangerous flu season.
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How To Protect Your Family From The Flu
Once the flu starts circulating, you can reduce your family’s chance of getting sick. Besides getting vaccinated, here are some of the most important steps you can take, according to Dr. Woody:
- Stay home when you’re sick. This can prevent spreading the virus even more, and it also promotes your own return to health.
- Wash your hands regularly. “This is a small yet significant step in living healthier,” says Dr. Woody. “Regularly washing your hands helps prevent bad bacteria and viruses from entering your body and causing you to get sick. Frequent hand-washing can help you avoid the flu and other diseases,” including the coronavirus.
- Wear a mask in crowded indoor places. Any face mask that completely covers the mouth and the nose is effective because it prevents the aerosolization of contagious flu droplets, says Dr. Woody. In other words, face coverings can keep the virus particles from entering your nose and mouth, which can lead to infection.
- Eat a balanced diet. Your diet affects your overall health, so to keep your body in top condition, try to eat balanced meals that include plenty of fruits and vegetables, especially during flu season.
When Is Flu Season Exactly
Although there are regional differences, cases of the flu begin to pick up around October, peak in December through February, and can last until May, says Natasha Bhuyan, MD, an infectious disease specialist and family physician in Phoenix, Arizona.
There are several reasons that the flu tends to be worse in the fall and winter, she says. For one thing, “The influenza virus tends to prefer cooler, dry weather, as its viral capsule can survive better in these conditions,” she explains. What’s more, people also spend lots of time indoors during flu season, “making the virus more easily spread from person to person.”
How Long Will The Flu Last This 2020
During flu season, health care providers tend to see an increase of patients across primary care doctors offices, ERs, and hospitals, says Dr. Bhuyan. But thanks to the added element of COVID-19, its difficult to say.
We often look to other countries in order to predict our own flu season in the U.S. COVID-19 has added a layer of complexity to the impending flu season this year, says Dr. Bhuyan. However, the measures we’re taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are also things that can decrease transmission of the flu, she notes.
According to Dr. Bhuyan, countries such as Chile, South Africa, and Australia are already seeing this play out. Australia has even seen a decrease in ICU capacity than prior flu seasons, which public health experts credit to mask wearing.
However, because COVID-19 cases are continuing in the U.S., its harder to predict the pattern of flu season, she says. Additionally, because the flu and COVID-19 have very similar symptoms, this is going to present some challenges in distinguishing the two viruses.
When Does Flu Season Start And End
As warm weather approaches, the last thing people want to think about is viruses. But when it comes to the influenza, there’s good news: flu season is coming to an end!
Flu season is a term that describes the months when influenza cases are the highest like any virus, the number of infected people tends to ebb and flow in a relatively predictable pattern each year. Keep reading to learn when flu season starts and ends, and how to keep yourself and your family healthy this year.
Facts About Flu Vaccinations
- The CDC recommends that all children above six months of age receive the flu vaccine annually.
- This vaccine is normally administered via a simple intravenous injection, but a nasal spray vaccination is currently being tested for widespread use.
- The flu vaccine should take approximately two weeks to begin protecting against influenza.
- If a person receives only one vaccination when he actually needs two, it may have no effect.
- Vaccinations must be performed at least four weeks apart from each other.
- Different flu vaccines are formulated to combat each strain of the flu virus.
- Every year, medical researchers determine which flu virus will be most prevalent during the upcoming flu season and provide that information to flu vaccine manufacturers.
Whats The Difference Between Influenza A And B
Influenza A and B are the two primary strains of the virus that cause illness in humans. They both cause classic flu symptoms such as fever, cough, runny nose, chills, body aches and fatigue, and its nearly impossible to tell which one you have without a lab test, Brammer says. Influenza A viruses are the only type known to cause pandemics, because they change rapidly and affect both humans and animals. Influenza B is slower-adapting and typically present only in humans.
Within each type, there are further subcategories. Influenza A subtypes are categorized by the combination of proteins on the virus surface the two most common in humans are H1N1 and H3N2. Influenza B, meanwhile, is divided into two lineages, Victoria and Yamagata.
So far this season, influenza B Victoria viruses have caused the most lab-confirmed flu diagnoses, followed by influenza A H1N1 viruses, according to CDC data. Both of those strains are known to primarily affect children and younger adults, rather than the elderly, Brammer says. Since older adults account for most flu deaths each year, that breakdown explains why lots of people have gotten sick with the flu but a relatively small portion have been hospitalized or died . By contrast, about 61,000 people died during the 2018-2019 flu season.
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How Do Experts Decide What To Put Into The Flu Vaccine
During flu season, experts study samples of the viruses circulating to find out how well the vaccine protected against those viruses. They use that information to help make their decision for the next one.
In general, vaccines work better against influenza B and influenza A viruses than they do against influenza A viruses.
Us Flu Season Arrives Early And It Could Be An Especially Bad One Experts Warn
The U.S. winter flu season is off to its earliest start in more than 15 years.
An early barrage of illness in the South has begun to spread more broadly, and theres a decent chance flu season could peak much earlier than normal, health officials say.
The last flu season to rev up this early was in 2003-04 a bad one. Some experts think the early start may mean a lot of suffering is in store, but others say its too early to tell.
It really depends on what viruses are circulating. Theres not a predictable trend as far as if its early its going to be more severe, or later, less severe, said Scott Epperson, who tracks flulike illnesses for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There are different types of flu viruses, and the one causing illnesses in most parts of the country is a surprise. Its a version that normally doesnt abound until March or April.
That virus generally isnt as dangerous to older people good news, since most flu hospitalizations and deaths each winter occur in the elderly. However, such viruses can be hard on children and people younger than 50.
Louisiana was the first state to really get hit hard, with doctors there saying they began seeing large numbers of flulike illnesses in October.
It is definitely causing symptoms that will put you in bed for a week, including fever, vomiting and diarrhea, Gross said. But the hospital has not had any deaths and is not seeing many serious complications, she said.
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Why The Flu Vaccine Matters More This Year
This season, the flu will be “a little bit unpredictable,” Dr. Clare Rock, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, tells CNBC Make It.
One reason: Scientists usually develop the annual influenza vaccines based on the composition of the flu strains that circulated the year before. Last year’s anomaly means it’s trickier to make this year’s vaccine, Rock says.
When vaccines are “well-matched” to the circulating flu virus, they can reduce the risk of illness by between 40% and 60%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This year’s number may be harder to predict.
That’s no reason to forgo your flu shot this year. No vaccine is ever 100% effective, and if you’re vaccinated, you’re significantly less likely to get severely ill. “The thought is that this flu vaccine this year is going to be as effective as it typically is,” Rock says. “But there’s just one more challenge that has gone into the mix.”
Another challenge: the potential of the flu and Covid circulating at the same time. “During the Covid pandemic, there are troubles potentially around every corner,” Rock says. “So I think the premise that we’re taking really is prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”
For perspective, that’s about three times as many flu-related hospitalizations as the U.S. typically sees in a year.
Is The Flu Dangerous For Pregnant People
Yes. Flu can be very dangerous for pregnant people and their babies. The changes in immune, heart and lung function during pregnancy make you more likely to get seriously ill from the flu. If you get the flu while pregnant, it also increases your chance for complications, such as premature labor and delivery, and birth defects.
Getting a flu shot during your pregnancy helps protect both you and your baby. When you get vaccinated, your body makes antibodies that are passed to your baby, which helps protect them during their first few months of life, before they are able to start getting their own annual flu vaccinations.
Flu shots have safely been given to millions of people, including pregnant people, over many years. Numerous studies show that the flu vaccine is safe and effective for pregnant people and their babies.Pregnancy experts strongly recommend that all pregnant people get a flu shot. You can safely get the flu shot during any trimester.
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A Flu Vaccine Will Not Prevent Covid
Getting a flu vaccine will not protect you against COVID-19. It is not 100% effective against the flu either.
You can still get the flu, but it does cut your chances, Pianko said.
This years annual flu shot will offer protection against three or four of the influenza viruses expected to be in circulation this season. A high-dose flu vaccine as well as an additional vaccine also will be available for adults age 65 and older.
Pianko said the flu vaccine could reduce symptoms that might be confused with those caused by COVID-19. There is not a vaccine for COVID-19 at this time, but there are trials underway.