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Flu Vaccine Effectiveness

A nurse prepares a flu shot from a vaccine vial at the Salvation Army in Atlanta.

Associated Press

Depending on how healthy you are, treatment for the flu may just mean bed rest, even in a flu season that is sickening more people than in previous years.

Dr. John Goldman, an infectious disease specialist at UPMC Pinnacle, said that even though the flu season is hitting residents harder this year, the emergency room is not always going to be the answer.

“For the average healthy person, the best treatment is probably rest, fluids, hydration and Tylenol or Motrin,” he said.

However, he said more consideration should be given for those who are older or have other underlying factors, including cardiac issues, breathing issues or diabetes. For that group of people, Goldman said Tamiflu is the recommended treatment.

Tamiflu can cut down on the longevity of symptoms by 24 hours, which could result in a healthy person only showing symptoms for 48 to 72 hours. Goldman said he has heard of a shortage of Tamiflu in some areas, but it’s an effective treatment for those who need it.

But having the symptoms and fever disappear isn’t the end of the problem.

Goldman said a flu is contagious about 24 hours before symptoms appear and 72 hours after the fever is gone. He suggested parents and adults use common sense when it comes to sending children to school or going back to work.

“If they still have a fever, you shouldn’t send them to school,” he said. “Even if they don’t have a fever, but they have a lot of nasal drainage, they shouldn’t go since that’s how the flu is spread.”

The best way to prevent all of this is to get a flu shot.

This season’s flu shot hasn’t proven to be very effective against the most prevalent strain, but Goldman said it can cut down the severity of the flu, even if it’s not protecting recipients 100 percent of the time.

Though health officials are leaning toward this season having peaked last week, the flu is still considered widespread across the state and most of the country.

“I want to stress that it’s not too late to get the flu shot,” Goldman said.

Email Naomi Creason at or follow her on Twitter @SentinelCreason


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