Flu Season: What You Need to Know

Flu Season: What You Need to Know

Also the flu season started in earnest a year ago in November.

Making a bad year worse, the flu vaccine didn't work very well.

Dr. William Schaffner, medical director for the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, said that those who get flu after receiving vaccine are less likely to require hospitalization and they're less likely to die. "The flu season typically starts around October so we recommend you make plans to get vaccinated now, before flu season begins". It was a reminder that flu season, which took a big toll a year ago, is near again.

Overall, the United States experienced one of the most severe flu seasons in recent decades.

The convenience factor also plays into ongoing discussion about whether the vaccine's protection will wane if people get it early in the season. But they said it is not expected to go down.

"That waning of immunity has not been substantial enough to recommend a delay in the kickoff for getting vaccines", he said.

It's especially important for people 65 and older (50 and older is recommended by the CDC) to get the flu shot, since their ability to fight the virus is lower. The 1918 flu pandemic, which lasted almost two years, killed more than 500,000 Americans, historians estimate. That means the vaccine reduced a person's overall risk of having to seek medical care for flu at a doctor's office by 40 percent. It was driven by a kind of flu that tends to put more people in the hospital and cause more deaths, particularly among young children and the elderly.

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The makeup of the vaccine has been changed this year to try to better protect against expected strains.

According to the CDC, it's hard to predict the timing, severity and length of a flu season.

More than 42,700 Islanders who fall within these groups will be eligible for vaccines, which will be administered in nurseries, schools, GP surgeries and pharmacies.

How well the vaccines protect people depends on how closely they match the viruses that are ultimately in circulation.

Those who do miss out on the early shots, however, should get one when they can.

Even if a vaccine isn't a ideal match for the year's strains, she said, it's still a good idea to get the shot because the antibodies people produce as a result will protect against the circulating strains and similar ones.

Now that the end of September is here, it's definitely a good time to get vaccinated for flu season.

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