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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.

 How bad is the flu season this year?

The 2014-2015 flu season got off to an early start. Most states in the eastern portion of the United States are experiencing widespread influenza activity, and public health officials are urging everyone to get vaccinated to protect themselves and others against the flu.

Who has been having the most problems with the flu so far?

We typically see activity levels highest in children. Increased influenza activity in children usually comes ahead of increases in activity in adults and the elderly. Also, there has been an increase in the percentage of pregnant women seeking care at emergency departments for influenza or influenza like illnesses (ILI) and the level is similar to what we see at the height of influenza season.

What is this we hear about the flu vaccine not working?

It is true that this year’s flu vaccine is not as effective against the most common flu strain identified this year because the virus has changed. Despite the change or “drift” in this strain, vaccination can still decrease severity of illness. It can also protect against other circulating strains of the virus, which is why vaccination is still recommended.

Is the vaccine safe?

The flu vaccine is safe, and continues to be the best way to protect yourself and others from the flu.

Can I get the flu from a flu shot?

Get Well Wednesday: Surviving Flu Season  was originally published on blackamericaweb.com

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