Kelli T. Wells, M.D., is a family physician and the director of the Florida Department of Health in Duval County. Dr. Wells was named to her current position in May 2013. Dr. Wells is a graduate of Florida A&M University, and the University of Florida College of Medicine. She completed a Family Practice Residency at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida.
As a National Health Service Corps Scholar, she spent the first years of her medical career working in Health Department clinics in Duval County, which fostered a love of public health and an intense interest in addressing health disparities.
As the Health Officer of Duval County, Dr. Wells has become an active participant on the Board of Directors of Partnership for Child Health, the co-chair of the Public Health Committee of the Duval County Medical Society, and a member of the Board of Directors for the Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition.
Dr. Wells answered your pressing flu questions and provided more info on how to avoid getting sick this flu season.
Never had the flu shot – never had the flu! Stop putting the virus in you with the shot, wash your hands, and take your vitamins!
Many have adopted this strategy, and with great vigilance this may work for some. But because the flu virus can live on surfaces for up to 24 hours, can be spread by coughing, sneezing at distances up to 6 feet, and are typically carried by children, it can be difficult to effectively practice these measures. Frequent hand-washing, 20 seconds with vigorous scrubbing, avoiding contact with your eyes, nose and mouth, avoiding ill people, and staying home when you are ill yourself are also great strategies.
If you already had the flu, do you still need to get the flu shot???
Unless you were seen by a physician and tested for the flu (so that you have a confirmed diagnosis), my recommendation is to still get the shot.
Since it is early in flu season, if you get the flu now and get treated, can you get the flu again later in the season?
No, you should not get the flu twice – you will develop antibodies to the virus.
I get sick after the flu shot. Is that normal?
Mild illness is possible, especially with the Flu Mist. But it is never as severe as flu infection. Be certain you do not have an allergy to flu vaccine components, such as eggs.
Dr. Wells, I had the flu shot. The last 2 days I’ve had a low grade fever (100), chills and sweats. l’ve also been coughing and wheezing. I’ve been using a still good inhaler and some prescription cough syrup from last January. I also use Flonase for sinuses sometimes. I’m thinking I should let it run its course. Your thoughts?
Go and get tested for the flu, particularly with a history of asthma. You would not want to miss the opportunity to start medication for the flu, if in fact that is what it is. Tamiflu (flu treatment) can shorten the course of illness and decrease the chances that you develop complications from infection like pneumonia.
How can you tell the difference between the flu and a very bad cold?
The flu tends to be associated with severe muscle aches, bad headache. The best analogy is that feeling like you’ve been hit by a truck. Bad colds can cause severe congestion, productive cough, etc., but people with bad colds do not tend to be unable to function. Also, cold symptoms tend to resolve more quickly than flu (flu lasts 10-14 days) unless you develop a sinus infection. This is usually signified by yellow drainage from the nose or brought up with coughing.
How bad is the flu season this year?