Dr. Prandeep Chandra warns Brooklynites not to flirt with the flu. The Chief Medical Officer at Brooklyn’s Interfaith Medical Center has seen firsthand the damage this year’s flu can do. It’s a strain that doesn’t care about your plans, obligations or deadlines; it’s coming soon to a home or workplace near you and it’s bringing the blues with it. Dr. Chandra thinks you should get a flu shot.
New York City has declared an official – and unusual – “flu emergency” as the epidemic careens across the city. According to Dr. Chandra, while flu season usually begins in November, it doesn’t end until May (!) with December through February seeing the greatest number of cases. And although Dr. Chandra is recommending it, he admits that this year’s flu vaccine is just “17% effective. However, he says that it can also, “…prevent complications and decrease both the severity and duration of the flu.”
This season’s H3N2 strain of the flu is more aggressive than others and is particularly dangerous for young children, elders, diabetics, cancer patients, persons with HIV, heart failure or kidney disease and others with weakened immune systems. It starts like a cold, with congestion in the nose, significant fatigue, pain and high fever and can last, “… between seven to ten days,” says Dr. Chandra, “unless treated by antiviral drugs like Tamiflu, which can reduce it to one to two days.”
Dr. Chandra recommends wearing a germ-protective face mask at the very least if, for example, you are against being vaccinated on grounds of religion. Those who object to taking the vaccine should take Tamiflu upon displaying the earliest symptoms, he says. However, because of the recent uptick in flu incidences, Tamiflu has been sold out in many drugstores. So Dr. Chandra stresses the importance of considering being vaccinated during this particularly threatening flu season.
Priscilla Mensah, a highly spirited scholar, enjoys topics related to improving health and wellness. She is also a former Health Reporting Fellow at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She can be reached at email@example.com.