Recurrent Breast Cancer

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The American military experience in World War I and the influenza pandemic in 1918 were closely intertwined. The war fostered influenza in the crowded conditions on the Western Front. The flu virus traveled with military personnel from camp to camp and across the Atlantic. At the height of American military involvement in WWI, September through November 1918, influenza and pneumonia sickened twenty to forty percent of Navy and Army personnel and rendered hundreds of thousands of military personnel non-effective.

During the American Expeditionary Forces’ campaign at Meuse-Argonne, the flu epidemic diverted urgently needed resources from combat support to transporting and caring for the sick and the dead. Influenza and pneumonia killed more American soldiers and sailors during WWI than did enemy weapons.

Autumn is coming; the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) recommends everyone six months and older be immunized against the flu, except for rare contraindications. The flu season begins in early October till May.  Those who receive the vaccine have protection two weeks after receiving it.

The vaccine is sixty to seventy percent effective in preventing the flu. The vaccine can be given by either injection or inhalation. Most people have no significant side effects. Both children and adults might prefer the inhaled spray instead of the injection.

 Babies less than two years of age should not take the inhaled spray. Kids two to eight years of age may have better immunity with the spray. FluMist is simple to administer. Those who choose the spray could have mild runny nose, headache, cough, and sore throat. These symptoms are temporary and milder than getting the flu. Patients receiving the injection might have low-grade fever and soreness at the injection site. Fever and muscle aches could occur for for one to two days.  It's not necessary or helpful to get receive both.  

High priority for receiving the vaccine includes children and young adults between six months and eighteen years; children with pulmonary (lung) disease, such as asthma; diabetes; those with heart, kidney, and liver disease; and anyone with a weakened immune system, such as HIV infection, should be immunized.

Women who plan to be pregnant should get vaccinated. Children and adults who have heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and Guillan-Barre Syndrome should be vaccinated. Adults fifty years or older, residents of nursing homes or care facilities, as well as those who live with someone at high risk of flu complications; and caregivers; should all get the vaccine.

Those with a history of severe allergic reaction to eggs or complications from a previous flue vaccination, pregnant women, and those who have a weakened immune system due to a stem cell transplant or organ transplant should not get the vaccine.

Other means of preventing flu include washing hands with soap and water, using alcohol based sanitizer on the hands, avoid touching the eyes, nose or mouth whenever possible, and avoiding crowds when the flu is prevalent. 
Questions or comments?  Contact Dr. Clem at