Why Do I Need The Flu Shot
Annual flu vaccination remains our best protection against contracting and spreading the flu and preventing flu-related complications, hospitalisation, and even death.
The flu virus is unpredictable because the circulating virus changes every year, says Dr Chu. The protection provided by the flu vaccine wanes, so it is best to be vaccinated each year before winter.
And for families, Dr Chu continues, getting the flu shot also protects the newborn grandchildren you cuddle that might be too young to receive their own flu shot.
Dr Chu explains that vaccines may contain weakened or inactive parts of a particular organism that trigger an immune response, creating antibodies to protect you against future infection.
Preparation is key to staying protected this winter.
Dr Chu says there are several different influenza vaccines available, of various types. And so, it is important to discuss with your GP the most appropriate way to protect yourself against the flu based on your personal health circumstances.
What Should I Do If I Think I Am Getting The Flu
Stay home, rest, and avoid contact with others except to get medical care if needed, experts say. Avoid contact with others for at least 24 hours after the fever subsides to avoid spreading the flu.
Be on the lookout for emergency warning signs that you may be getting serious flu-related complications.
In children, these include:
- Symptoms that improve but then return with a fever and worsening cough.
How Do Experts Decide What To Put Into The Flu Vaccine
During flu season, experts study samples of the viruses circulating to find out how well the vaccine protected against those viruses. They use that information to help make their decision for the next one.
In general, vaccines work better against influenza B and influenza A viruses than they do against influenza A viruses.
Recommended Reading: Can I Get A Free Flu Shot At Cvs
Flu Season Statistics Are Being Studied To Improve Population Health
Creating a historical record of the peak months of flu activity for each annual flu season is only one aspect of flu season statistics that are being studied. The CDC also operates a flu activity surveillance initiative that is called FluView. FluView is a weekly report that compiles flu activity data from medical institutions across the nation and processes that data into practical knowledge.
Some of the basic data presented in the FluView report shows approximately when and where influenza infections have been occurring frequently. The researchers also try to detect which strain of the virus is most prominent and whether that virus may be undergoing any changes or mutations. With this data on hand, the CDC can more effectively provide support to the groups of people who face the greatest risk of contracting a severe case of influenza.
Influenza reaches epidemic levels in the United States every year during flu season. Thankfully, organizations such as the CDC have compiled a large volume of evidence-based knowledge to help people safely persist through flu season. With these resources and modern medicine available, there is no reason to worry as flu season approaches this year.
When Should I Get A Flu Shot
To protect yourself from influenza, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting your yearly flu shot by the end of October.
It is a good idea to get a flu shot before the start of flu season to avoid getting sick with the flu. Even a late flu shot provides protection, especially when a flu season lingers into April or May.
You May Like: Coming Down With The Flu
Myth #: You Can Get The Flu From The Flu Shot
Fact: The flu shot does not contain an active virus. So, the answer to questions like Can you get the flu from the flu shot? Can the flu shot make you sick? or Is the flu vaccine a live virus? is a definite no.
But for some, the flu shot does come with mild side effects that can easily be mistaken for early flu-like symptoms. The most common flu shot side effects include mild soreness, tenderness or a bit of swelling at the injection site. You may also run a small fever, or experience slight headaches or muscle aches.
On the other hand, many experience no flu shot reactions at all! Plus, a day or two of mild discomfort simply doesnt compare to what you can experience with a full bout of the flu. Flu symptom onset is fast and often involves fever, chills, extreme fatigue, muscle aches and more for several days.
Is The Flu Going Around In 2021
As mentioned above, the 2020-2021 flu season was dramatically less severe than previous years.
Before the pandemic started , the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated 38 million people got sick with flu symptoms . There were 400,000 hospitalizations and 22,000 flu-related deaths in 2019-2020. Approximately 130,000 flu cases were recorded between September 2019 and January 2020. In contrast, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention logged only around 1,300 flu cases the subsequent year .
Does this mean we can expect another year of respite from respiratory viruses? No. Experts are warning that the flu virus could come back with a vengeance this fall . There are several reasons for this fear. All the things that people did to reduce the spread of Covid-19, such as masking, washing hands, using hand sanitizer, social distancing, avoiding crowded places, and staying home when sick, also helped prevent illness and deaths from influenza infections during the pandemic.
In the current 2021-2022 flu season, these protective factors may no longer be present. Pandemic fatigue, more and more people getting Covid-19 vaccinations, reduced masking and social distancing, and people going back to work this fall means that flu activity could be back at usual or higher levels.
Don’t Miss: How Old Is The Flu Shot
Who Is At The Highest Risk Of The Flu In 2021
Because there was so little flu activity last year, most people wont have the boost of natural immunity, as noted above. Also, those who did not get a flu shot last flu season will have to depend on immunity developed two or more flu seasons ago.
As always, older individuals and children will be especially vulnerable to flu viruses in 2021-2022. Older adults because their immune system is not as robust. Children because they may not have been exposed to flu viruses before. In particular, young children who have stayed home throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and will now go to daycare for the first time will be at risk to get the flu, because it might be their first time getting exposed to the flu virus.
With that said, even healthy adults may be at increased risk this flu season due to a lack of exposure to flu viruses last year. This could mean longer illness duration, more severe flu symptoms, and more hospitalizations and deaths.
What Public Health Tracks
Public Health tracks cases of influenza and respiratory syncytial virus . The team that tracks these cases creates weekly reports during the influenza/RSV season. At the end of the year, a yearly report summarizes the data.
The 2021-2022 Flu/RSV season began on October 3, 2021 and continues through October 2, 2022.
Public Health tracks flu and RSV cases by MMWR weeks, which is a standard way across the United States of numbering weeks in a year to track disease. . Weekly reports start on Sunday and end the following Saturday.
Recommended Reading: What Cold And Flu Medicine Is Safe During Pregnancy
When Is Flu Season In The Uk
Flu season in the UK falls between December and March. During this time, outbreaks of the flu are common. You might notice that more of your co-workers, family members and friends get sick, experiencing coughing, sneezing, headaches, fever and aches and pains.
In other parts of the world, most notably the southern hemisphere, flu season will fall at a different time of the year. The general rule is that flu outbreaks are more prevalent when the weather is cold.
Do You Know When Your Family Is Most At Risk For Influenza We Spoke With An Expert To Learn When Flu Season Typically Starts And Ends So You Can Take Precautions To Keep Everyone Healthy
David Hill, M.D., has been practicing pediatrics in the outpatient and inpatient settings since 1998. He serves as adjunct assistant professor of pediatrics at both the UNC School of Medicine and the Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Hill has been a professional journalist since high school and is the author/co-author/editor of three books for the American Academy of Pediatrics, including the best-selling Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5. He has served in a variety of leadership roles in the North Carolina Pediatric Society and American Academy of Pediatrics, most recently on the AAP Council Management Committee. Dr. Hill has a long career in broadcasting as well, currently co-hosting the AAP’s flagship podcast, Pediatrics on Call.
As warm weather approaches, the last thing people want to think about is viruses. But when it comes to the influenza, there’s good news: flu season is coming to an end!
Flu season is a term that describes the months when influenza cases are the highest like any virus, the number of infected people tends to ebb and flow in a relatively predictable pattern each year. Keep reading to learn when flu season starts and ends, and how to keep yourself and your family healthy this year.
Recommended Reading: Will Medicare Pay For Flu Shots At Cvs
Can A Flu Vaccine Give Me The Flu
No. The way that flu vaccines are made, they cannot cause the flu. Flu shots are made from either flu viruses that have been inactivated OR with proteins from a flu virus. .
Nasal spray flu vaccine is made with weakened live flu viruses, and also cannot cause the flu. The weakened viruses are cold-adapted, which means they can only cause flu infection at the cooler temperatures found in your nose. These viruses cannot infect your lungs or other warmer areas of your body.
While some people may get mild side effects from a flu shot like a sore arm, a headache, muscle aches or a low fever, those side effects usually begin soon after the shot and only last 1 -2 days. These are actually signs that the vaccine is working and your body is building immunity.
Preventing A Child From Getting The Flu
The most effective way to prevent a child from getting the flu is by administering a flu vaccination.
- These vaccinations cause antibodies to develop within the patients body, protecting the individual against the influenza virus.
- While seasonal flu vaccination is not a 100 percent certain way to eliminate the flu, it has been shown to significantly improve the odds of a person avoiding a flu infection.
- But a flu vaccination is not the only option parents have to fight the flu.
Parents can also incorporate better eating habits and hygiene into their childrens routines to help them persevere through the flu season.
You May Like: Robitussin Multi Symptom Cold And Flu
Myth #: I Dont Need The Vaccine I Never Get The Flu
Fact: Unfortunately, a flu-free history does not guarantee a flu-free future. Flu strains evolve and change over time, which means you are at risk every year you avoid getting vaccinated. In addition, when you skip your shot you can still carry and pass flu germs to others.
Influenza symptoms can leave us stuck in bed for days using up valuable vacation time. I always ask patients, why not save up those days for a sunny vacation instead?
Other Ways To Keep Yourself Protected
Maddison says you can also protect yourself by cleaning your hands often, coughing or sneezing into your arm and staying home if youre sick.
Nutrition and wellness are also important for keeping the immune system strong, experts add. Make sure youre getting a good amount of sleep, drink eight glasses of water and eat those fruits and vegetables.
Simor adds you should also avoid people who are sick or are more likely to get sick during these months.
Stay away from people who are sick because influenza spreads when people are close and crowded together.
Read Also: Is The Flu Shot Good To Get
Should I Get The Flu Shot This Year
Vaccination helps prevent you from getting sick with the flu. It also reduces the risk of serious flu illness and complications like pneumonia, hospitalization, and death. Getting vaccinated for the flu not only protects you but also those around you, including young children, older individuals, and pregnant women who are particularly vulnerable to serious flu illness. For vulnerable individuals, the influenza vaccine can be life-saving.
The CDC recommends getting the flu vaccine every year. The flu shot is recommended for everyone aged 6 months or older, including pregnant women. Flu vaccines are available as a flu shot or nasal spray. Each year, a new flu vaccine is developed to protect against the strain predicted to be most prevalent in the upcoming flu season. In the 2021-2022 flu season, the flu vaccine will be quadrivalent, meaning they will protect against four flu viruses. There are special flu vaccines for older adults that provide stronger immunity.
Keep in mind that Covid-19 is not over yet. Both the flu and Covid-19 can spread at the same time. Given this, getting the flu vaccine is more important than ever – it will ensure fewer hospitalizations for influenza-related illnesses, so there are hospital beds available for critically ill Covid-19 patients.
The Flu Isnt The Same Thing As A Cold
Cold and flu are often referred to together, but they are distinct and differ dramatically in severity.
While colds might come with sneezing, sniffles or sore throat, Dr Chu reminds us that, the flu usually presents with fever, headaches, body aches and pains that can be severe, along with exhaustion and fatigue that can last up to 2 to 3 weeks.
The flu is a serious respiratory disease that can have a devastating impact on your health and lasting consequences. And it affects us differently as we age.
Dr Chu explains, getting sick with the flu may mean never recovering to your previous level of function or doing the things you love.
If you are in your sixties or older, a severe case of the flu is more likely to put you in hospital. It is estimated that between 2016 and 2019, approximately 56 per cent of flu hospitalisations occurred in Australians aged 60 and above.
If you are older and/or have an existing illness, the flu can cause serious complications including:
- heart attack
And if you have existing coronary heart disease, your risk of dying from flu complications increases 10-fold compared to people without coronary heart disease.
Read Also: How Much Is A Flu Shot Without Insurance At Walmart
Be A Flu Fighter By Getting Your Annual Flu Shot
There are a lot of reasons to get a flu shot. Its fast. Its easy. Its almost always free. But maybe one of the most important reasons is that it can significantly reduce your risk of getting the flu and passing it to others. And this helps you, your family and community stay healthy, happy and productive.
What Are Common Symptoms Of The Flu
They usually come more suddenly than cold symptoms. They include fever, feeling feverish, the chills, and having a cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle or body aches, headache, and fatigue. Less common are vomiting and diarrhea. Children are more likely to have vomiting and diarrhea than adults are.
Not everyone with the flu has a fever.
You May Like: What Can Be Given For The Flu
What To Expect For The 2021
This time of the year is often associated with the holidays, but there is another season that has many in the medical professional worried and thats flu season. The 2021-2022 flu season is expected to be especially active because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The flu virus is most active during the fall and winter months. Flu season usually begins in October and peaks between December and February . Last years flu season was very mild, and because of that cases of the flu are expected to be higher this year, especially as COVID-prevention measures like hand washing, social distancing and masking are relaxed across the country.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends that anyone over the age of six months get a flu shot every year, unless recommended otherwise by a medical professional. People at especially high risk for the flu include:
- Adults 65 years and older
- Children under the age of two
- Pregnant women
- Residents of nursing homes or other long-term facilities
- People with pre-existing conditions
In addition to the flu vaccine, other ways to reduce the risk for the flu are frequent handwashing, covering your mouth when coughing, and avoiding people who are sick. Many of the same ways used to limit the spread of COVID.
Why The Flu Is A Concern
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness thats caused by influenza viruses, according to the CDC. The flu can cause illness that ranges from mild to severe, and it can be deadly.
The flu mainly spreads through tiny droplets that are created when someone with the flu coughs, sneezes, or talks, the CDC explains. Those droplets can then land in the mouths or noses of other people and infect them. Its less common, but a person might get the flu by touching an infected surface and then touching their mouth, nose, or eyes.
Flu symptoms usually come on suddenly and they can vary, but the CDC says they generally include the following:
fever or feeling feverish/having chills
vomiting and diarrhea
Also Check: Flu Risk In My Area