Understanding Medical Problems

Hit The Flu With Your Best Shot: Get The Flu Shot

Influenza activity during the 2014-2015 season was widespread, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2017-2018 surpassed that season. By the time that the 2017-2018 flu season started to peak, 37 children succumbed to the flu, and the hospitalization rate for adults with the flu soared. Understand why getting immunized against influenza every year can make all the difference in your prognosis, even during seasons with widespread flu activity and with reduced vaccine efficacy.

Flu Season Fluctuations

The efficacy of influenza vaccines, which protect against three or four viral strains of the flu, varies from season to season. When a strain mutates into a new strain during a flu season, protection against that new strain is not going to be part of the current season's vaccine. Each season's vaccine is formulated based upon the prior season's prevalent strains.

The activity rate of influenza can also vary from season to season as the number of people who opt out of getting their annual flu vaccines fluctuates. According to the CDC, nearly 60 percent the U.S. population did not get immunized for the 2017-2018 flu season. When more than half of the population remains unprotected and new strains emerge, the result is pandemic.

Vaccine Myths Busted

Why have so many people chosen not to be immunized against the flu? Their reasons range from outlandish conspiracy theories to common myths. Some of these myths include the following:

Some people are reluctant to bother with the flu vaccine upon hearing reports that the previous season's vaccine efficacy was low. However, a vaccine with low efficacy still provides greater protective benefits than no vaccine at all.

Benefits of Getting the Flu Vaccine

Even though the flu vaccine's efficacy can vary from season to season, there are plenty of reasons to get immunized annually. For one thing, the greater the number of individuals who receive the vaccine, the lower the risk is for contracting the illness from one another. Other benefits of the flu vaccine include the following:

Immunization against the flu helps to protect everyone, and if everyone who is able to receive the vaccine does so, flu-related hospitalizations and deaths can be reduced.

Who Should Get Vaccinated?

The CDC currently recommends that everyone six month of age and older get immunized against the flu. There are a few individuals who must discuss influenza vaccination with their primary care provider prior to immunization, and those individuals include the following:

The best protection against the flu is the flu vaccine, and while there is an optimal time to get immunized, anytime is better than not at all.

When Should You Get Vaccinated?

The ideal time for getting immunized against the flu each year is during the month of October. However, it is never too late to reap protective benefits. The CDC advises healthcare providers to offer the vaccine throughout the active flu season. In the United States, flu season peaks between the months of December and February, but can continue into May. So if the flu is still circulating in your area, go and get immunized if you have not already done so this season.