flu vaccine

What You Should Know about This Year's Flu Vaccine

Influenza – commonly known as the flu – is a serious and potentially fatal virus that causes familiar symptoms like fever, coughing and muscle aches, according to the Mayo Clinic. It can also lead to far graver complications like pneumonia, bronchitis and even death in some cases.

Mayo, in an article released on its news network, cited figures from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that about 49,000-flu related deaths occur every year.

Given those statistics, getting a flu shot is crucial.

In the article, Dr. Vandana Bhide, who treats many hospitalized flu patients at Mayo in Jacksonville, Florida, offers advice and information on this year’s flu strain:

For the 2016-2017 flu season, there have been several updates, including a recommendation by the CDC against the FluMist. Bhide notes that all vaccines are injectable and that a needleless system is available for people with a fear of needles.

As for this year’s flu strains, Bhide says that they include H1N1 A and a new subtype known as H3N2. There’s also a new B strain called Brisbane. A quadravalent vaccine is available, which protects against two influenza A strains and two influenza B strains.

Additionally, options are available for people with egg allergies; these alternate ingredients are made in cell cultures or are synthetic.

Bhide says everyone should consider a flu vaccine, especially those who have high risk factors for complications. These groups include, the Mayo article says, people over 65, pregnant women, children six  months to two years old, and individuals who are immunocompromised.

“Many people who get the flu will have a fever, experience muscle aches and feel the need to stay home from work or school for a few days. Certain people can develop serious complications. The vaccine can help avoid these issues,” says Bhide.

The flu season typically lasts from October to March, according to Mayo, and there is no specific deadline for getting the vaccine. But, Bhide says, the sooner the better.

“The vaccine is the best defense against the flu and serious flu-related conditions,” she says, “and, because it’s difficult to predict how and when the flu will strike, I recommend getting it as early as you possibly can.”

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