Now’s the Time to Get Your Flu Shot

It’s officially Influenza (flu) season, and most of us probably don’t need any reminders that coming down with the flu is no fun whatsoever. But there is one thing you can do to reduce your odds of getting sick this fall and winter—get a flu shot ASAP.

Vaccination healthcare concept. Hands of doctor or nurse in medical gloves injecting a shot of vaccine to a man patient

For most people, getting a flu shot takes barely any time at all. And by late October, the flu shot will be likely available at local pharmacies, physician’s offices, and even in some workplaces. Sometimes it’s even free. No matter how easy getting a flu shot may be, many people put off the task until their friends, family, and coworkers start to get sick. Unfortunately, by then it could be too late to avoid. Procrastinating your flu shot isn’t the greatest idea because the longer you wait, the longer you’re going without the flu shot’s protection. Getting a flu shot is the best way to prevent the flu, and the vaccine is known to reduce flu-related illnesses and the risk of related complications.

Here are some other important details you need to know about the flu shot:

What is the flu?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs.” The effects can range from mild to severe, sometimes even leading to death. Flu spreads extremely easily, likely through small droplets released when people sneeze, talk, or cough.

Some common flu symptoms, which you’ve probably experienced at one point or another, include fever, fatigue, sore throat, cough, runny or stuffy nose, achiness, headaches, and sometimes diarrhea or vomiting.

Is the flu shot effective right away?
Here’s another reason to quit procrastinating that flu shot—following vaccination, It takes about two weeks for your body to develop antibodies that protect you against the flu.

Can anyone get a flu shot?
The CDC recommends that everyone who’s at least six months old should get a flu vaccine each year prior to the start of flu activity in their region, and by the end of October, if possible.

Infants under the age of six months are too young to be vaccinated, but studies show that if the mother is vaccinated during pregnancy, this can offer some protection for the baby for a number of months after birth. Because infants under six months are at high risk, the CDC says it’s important for people who live with or care for infants to be vaccinated.

People with an allergy to the vaccine or any of its ingredients should avoid the vaccine or at least speak to their doctor to see if getting the flu shot is safe. The CDC recommends that people with the following conditions speak with their healthcare provider to see if vaccination is advised: those with an allergy to eggs or any other ingredient in the vaccine, people who have had Guillain-Barré Syndrome, and people who are not feeling well.

If you would like to meet with a knowledgeable doctor, consider contacting Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com. We have offices in Phoenix, Ahwatukee, Casa Grande, Goodyear, Scottsdale, Gilbert, and Chandler.

Anti-Zika Antibody Discovery May Lead to Treatment During Pregnancy

Although Zika is no longer a global emergency, it still remains a global threat. As a result, doctors and health officials are continuing to investigate ways to treat the condition. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has funded several studies to develop a Zika vaccine. In fact, several early-stage clinical trials are being conducted to study investigative vaccines.

NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases recently helped fund a study designed to isolate antibodies that could neutralize Zika viruses. Led by Dr. James Crowe of Vanderbilt University and Dr. Michael Diamond of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, the promising results of this antibody study were published in Nature.

Isolated Antibody in Blood Analysis

The scientists studied anti-Zika antibodies from the blood samples of eight patients who had recovered from Zika infection. One such antibody called ZIKV-117 proved to be especially effective in neutralizing Zika virus strains from Asia, Africa and America.

Testing ZIKV-117 in Mice

After isolating the ZIKV-117 antibody, scientists examined whether ZIKV-117 antibodies could conquer Zika infections in mice. To test this theory, they gave male mice a single dose of ZIKV-117 antibodies one or five days after Zika infection. Compared with mice that received a control antibody, the mice injected with the ZIKV-117 antibodies had viral protection and increased survival rates.

Next, the scientists assessed whether ZIKV-117 could protect a developing mouse fetus. To do so, they administered ZIKV-117 to pregnant mice one day before infection. This antibody treatment reduced virus levels in both the placenta and the fetal brain. The treated mice had less placental damage and fetuses that were larger in size. Plus, the antibodies did not seem to be harmful to the developing mice.

Promising Results for Zika Treatment During Pregnancy

According to Dr. Diamond, “This is proof of principle that Zika virus during pregnancy is treatable, and we already have a human antibody that treats it, at least in mice.” Medical researchers are hopeful that the discovery of the ZIKV-117 antibody will hasten the development of effective Zika prevention and treatment strategies. Of course, additional studies are needed to assess the antibody’s behavior in humans.

Ongoing Prevention and Protection Guidelines

At the present time, Zika has no known cure or effective treatment. If you are pregnant, continue to follow current health guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which include avoiding areas with active Zika virus transmission and protecting against mosquito bites.

Read more:

To learn more about birth control, call Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com.

New HPV Guidelines

ACOG has not commented on the new guidelines so pap frequency discretion could be different with your AOA provider.

The HPV vaccine is not without controversy, however ‘a new study suggests that the vaccine against human papillomavirus can significantly cut the likelihood of virus-related disease even among women who have had surgery for cervical cancer caused by HPV,’ according to the New York Times. There have been many studies over the years regarding the HPV vaccine, however this new study also takes a look at how the vaccine affects those who have had an HPV-related infection in the past.

During the study, of the women who received the HPV vaccine, 46 percent were ‘less likely to suffer subsequent HPV-related disease.’ And for those who had a bout with HPV-related infections in the past, the HPV vaccine reduced their overall risk for future bouts by 64 percent.

Experts not involved with the research told ABC News that the research is significant because it suggests for the first time that the HPV vaccine may offer benefits beyond prevention, according to ABCNews.com.

HPV-Related Cancers

On a related note, the HPV virus in relation to head and neck cancers is rising in the United States, which is another reason why the above study is so important. As we find out more and more about the importance of getting the HPV vaccine for prevention benefits, we are also well aware of the fact that the human papillomavirus contributes to a great many other illnesses and cancers.

In January, a study was published documenting the ability for the HPV vaccine to reduce the recurrence of abnormal cell growths in men, directly correlating with this recent study out of the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center and its findings. According to the study, the incidence of head and neck cancers related to the human papillomavirus (HPV) is rising in the United States, with the greatest increase among middle-aged white men.

About HPV

Over 6 million men and women in the United States become infected with HPV every year, and according to the Centers for Disease Control about 20 million people are currently infected. HPV comes in many forms, over 40 different strains in fact, many of which clear up on their own. However, HPV types 6, 11, 16 and 18 can lead to many health issues, including genital warts, cervical cancer and many other forms of cancer including head and neck cancers.

Recently new screening guidelines were released (from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force):

  • Women aged 21 to 65 should get Pap tests no more than every three years; previous guidelines, issued in 2003, recommended that women be screened “at least” every three years, allowing for annual screens
  • Women aged 30 to 65 may extend the interval between screens to five years if they use HPV tests in conjunction with the Pap test; the HPV test should not be used in younger women because many of them will have HPV infection that they will naturally clear without treatment
  • Women under 21 should not be screened for cervical cancer, regardless of sexual history; previous advice recommended that women begin cervical cancer screening within three years of becoming sexually active
  • Women over 65 should not be screened, as long as they have had consistently normal Pap tests and are not at high risk for cervical cancer

    Read more: http://healthland.time.com/2012/03/16/new-cervical-cancer-screening-guidelines-include-hpv-tests/#ixzz1rBQpPeTT

For more information on the HPV vaccine, HPV-related issues and complications, or any other questions you might have regarding STD’s, please contact us.