Primary Care

Riverside Urges People to get Vaccinated in a Flu Season Far from Over

August 21, 2018

Riverside Associate Medical Director O.T. Adcock, Jr., M.D., RPh Says Vaccinations Remain Best Bet for Protecting Against Influenza, Shingles and Pneumonia

Newport News, Va. - With some media reports suggesting that this year’s flu season is peaking, don’t let your guard down and do consider getting vaccinated.

That was the message O.T. Adcock, Jr., M.D., RPh, left with dozens of people Friday during a lecture for CNU’s Lifelong Learning Society, which highlights programs designed to help older adults improve their total health and wellness.

“The flu is still out there everywhere, and you need to be very careful,” said Adcock, a family practice physician who now serves as Associate Medical Director with Riverside Medical Group.

During his lecture, he described the dilemma of this year’s flu season, which saw the spread of two different strains – subtype A (H3N2) and subtype B Yamagata – being the most common. Adcock explained that while a flu virus’ tendency to mutate complicates vaccine manufacturers’ decision as to which types of influenza virus to include in the vaccine every season, the reports that this season’s vaccine is only 10 percent effective may have been premature.  The true effectiveness may be closer to thirty percent.

“There’s almost no reason not to get a flu shot,” Adcock stressed to the audience, reminding them that a vaccination still remains the number one thing they can do for protection during a flu season which some say may last into May or later.  Frequent hand washing, staying away from people who are ill and staying at home if you have an upper respiratory illness are all ways to help prevent the flu from spreading.

Adcock also said that it is not possible to get the flu from the vaccine itself, but that it takes about two weeks for the vaccination to be effective. He also cautioned that it is possible to get the flu twice in the same season given the different viral types, and explained how to differentiate flu symptoms from other illnesses.

“If you have just a runny nose and a scratchy throat, that’s probably not the flu,” said Adcock. “Typically if you have a fever, cough and aches, then you probably have the flu – and you’re probably going to feel pretty badly within 24 hours of the time that starts.”  

Medications like Tamiflu (taken orally) and Relenza (a nasal spray) can alleviate flu symptoms if prescribed within two days from the start of the symptoms.

Adcock also provided context and clarification for some of the grim stories audience members might be seeing in the media. For example, pediatric deaths this flu season, while tragic, might actually be lower than the 2014-2015 season.

Adcock explained that it is not always the flu itself which can be deadly, but rather the complications it can cause such as pneumonia, which in turn is especially problematic for people over age 65, those with chronic health problems and smokers.

Pneumonia and shingles were also focuses of Adcock’s presentation, which explored key statistics and highlighted the vaccinations that are available for both diseases, while also reinforcing the importance of getting exercise, eating well and not smoking.