The flu season this year started early and has been atypical, with type B influenza dominating first. At this point, however, influenza is widespread in most of the country. (Here’s a link to the CDC map.) If there’s flu in your community and you have not yet had your vaccination, you may have delayed too long. You need two weeks to develop antibodies after immunization. But you can still find out about protecting yourself from the flu. One reader shared a sound recommendation.
Protecting Yourself from the Flu with Medication:
Q. If you know you have been exposed to influenza, start taking an antiviral drug immediately. If you begin the drug as soon as you are exposed, you will significantly lower your chances of getting sick.
I was in a situation where four people (three adults and an infant) were exposed to a confirmed case of influenza. We all got prescriptions for Tamiflu, and three of us started taking it immediately. One adult decided to skip the Tamiflu. The people who took it never had any symptoms at all. The one who did not came down with a miserable case of influenza and took a month to recover from it.
A. Not everyone realizes that an antiviral drug used to treat the flu can also be used for protecting yourself from the flu. Doctors prescribe oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (Relenza) to help prevent influenza (Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, April 10, 2014). If you do come down with influenza, you could take one of these drugs to shorten the illness.
The CDC states:
“Antiviral medications are an important adjunct to flu vaccine in the control of influenza. Almost all (>99%) of the influenza viruses tested this season are susceptible to the four FDA-approved influenza antiviral medications recommended for use in the U.S. this season.”
You benefit most from drugs like oseltamivir, zanamivir or baloxavir (Xofluza) by taking them within 24 to 48 hours of exposure Oseltamivir can cause nausea and vomiting, so you should eat something when you take it.