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Ask Stanford Med: Infectious disease specialist taking questions on seasonal influenza

Although the latest report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that seasonal influenza activity has so far been sporadic in the U.S., now is the time to start taking preventative measures.

Public health experts encourage everyone older than the age of six months to get flu shots annually and note that it takes two weeks for the vaccine to provide immunity. Getting a flu shot is a person's best defense against getting sick - especially for those in groups that are more likely to get flu complications, which can result in being hospitalized and occasionally can be fatal. These groups include children, pregnant women, adults older than 64, Native Americans and Alaskan Natives.

Still, debate over the effectiveness of flu shots continues. So to shed some light on the issues, we've asked Corry Dekker, MD, medical director of the Stanford-Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Vaccine Program, to respond to your questions about the latest flu vaccine research and ways to prepare yourself and your family for the approaching flu season.

Questions can be submitted to Dekker by either sending a tweet that includes the hashtag #AskSUMed or posting your question in the comments section below. We’ll collect questions until Monday (Oct. 22) at 5 PM Pacific time.

When submitting questions, please abide by the following ground rules:

  • Stay on topic
  • Be respectful to the person answering your questions
  • Be respectful to one another in submitting questions
  • Do not monopolize the conversation or post the same question repeatedly
  • Kindly ignore disrespectful or off topic comments
  • Know that Twitter handles and/or names may be used in the responses

Dekker will respond to a selection of the questions submitted, but not all of them, in a future entry on Scope.

Finally – and you may have already guessed this – an answer to any question submitted as part of this feature is meant to offer medical information, not medical advice. These answers are not a basis for any action or inaction, and they’re also not meant to replace the evaluation and determination of your doctor, who will address your specific medical needs and can make a diagnosis and give you the appropriate care.

Previously: Student “Flu Crew” brings no-cost flu vaccinations to the community, Dynamic duo: Flu vaccine plus adjuvant bolsters immunity, School of Medicine’s new dean on the importance of health-care workers getting flu shots, Public health experts: Now’s the time to get flu shot and European experts debunk six myths about flu shot
Photo by Sergio Alvarez

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