Q & A: What Underlying Conditions Would Affect a Person’s Response to the Flu?

January 14, 2014 9:54 am · 8 comments

The Contra Costa County Public Health Department wanted to answer a question asked by a Claycordian after we posted the news about the flu related death of a Contra Costa County resident.

QUESTION: What underlying conditions would affect a person’s response to the flu?

ANSWER (from the Public Health Dept.) Flu can be unpredictable and anyone who gets flu illness has the risk of getting very sick. It’s not possible to predict who will get very sick and possibly die from flu illness and who will only have mild illness. That’s why it’s so important for everyone to get a flu vaccine each year, especially since even those with mild illness can transmit flu disease to others up to a day before they feel sick.

We do know from past flu seasons that certain health conditions can put people at greater risk of severe flu disease, hospitalization, and even death. Unfortunately, many of these conditions are fairly common. They include: diabetes, asthma, heart disease, pregnancy, being under 5 years of age, and being over 65 years of age. Thankfully, our elderly community members know this and many get flu vaccine each year. However, past flu seasons have shown that the H1N1 flu strain has made more children and young adults sick, even previously healthy ones, compared to the elderly. Older children and young adults may not be in the habit of getting flu vaccine each year because they don’t know they are at greater risk of severe flu disease from H1N1. The H1N1 strain has been in the community since 2009 and it is now considered a season flu strain.

We strongly encourage community members to get flu vaccine each year. It’s safe and it’s the best way to prevent flu disease. This season’s flu vaccine provides protection against H1N1 as well as other common flu strains. Protection lasts the whole season, so we recommend getting flu vaccine as soon as it is available, but it is never too late to get vaccinated.

Your readers can find more information on at-risk groups by clicking HERE.

Readers can also find out more information about flu disease and where to get flu vaccine by clicking HERE.

Thanks so much for helping inform our community about an important health topic!

Paul Leung, MPH
Immunization Coordinator, Contra Costa Public Health

CLAYCORD NOTE: Thanks to Paul Leung for reaching out and taking the time to answer the question!

1 Denise January 14, 2014 at 10:35 AM

Since I haven’t had the flu since Mountain View Elementary (in the 60’s), and I rarely get sick, and I don’t have diabetes, asthma, heart disease, not pregnant, or under the age of 5, I can’t see getting a flu shot.

My employer was having “free flu shots”, and I talked to the nurse, and even she told me there was really no reason to get a flu shot. I thought she was going to tell me “everybody needs one.”

She couldn’t believe I hadn’t had a cold in over 10 years.

I take care of my self. Good genes too.

2 No flu January 14, 2014 at 11:55 AM

The amount of money raked in over this vaccine. I would feel more confident if the government had not given a liability immunity when they developed the H1N1 vaccine since it was rushed. There are no hard statistics on how many people have the flu after the vaccine, what the change in death rates is, and the number of adverse reactions versus the benefit. In other words, trust in the pill pushing doctors and the drug manufacturers. No thanks. There are many natural things you cab do to boost you immunity, including Vit d3. At best, they mix a variation of flu versions they believe will hit. including the h1n1 this year, and hope for the best. I would also like to see a statistic from each hospital what percentage of their staff (all the staff) get the vaccine.

3 Frank L. January 14, 2014 at 12:07 PM

I, like Denise, rarely get sick.

If I got the flu regularly, or even occasionally, I’d get a flu shot. But I can’t remember the last time I had the flu. I was probably a kid.

4 RanchgirlCA January 14, 2014 at 12:42 PM

My Mom still refuses to get a flu shot. Swears it’ll give her the flu, no matter what I tell her. She’s ended up in the hospital the last few times she caught the flu. Will she ever learn? Seeing and hearing how bad the flu is, I won’t pass the shot up. I don’t want to feel like that ever again if I can help it.

5 Elwood January 14, 2014 at 2:04 PM

“she told me there was really no reason to get a flu shot.”

To paraphrase Will Rogers: The good Lord must have loved stupid people ’cause he made so many of them.

6 Silva January 14, 2014 at 2:09 PM

What is a “season flu strain”?

7 The Observer January 14, 2014 at 3:27 PM

The CDC reports that 92.3% of physicians got vaccinated against flu last year. This group would seem the most likely to understand the risks involved in getting the flu and they’re choosing to get vaccinated. As for me, I’ve been getting a flu shot for years and haven’t gotten the flu. And, no, I’ve never gotten sick from a flu shot.

8 Unbelievable January 14, 2014 at 4:17 PM

so no one should get shots for measles, chicken pox, too. It’s one of these idiots that doesn’t get a shot that gives it to someone who dies from the flu.

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