It’s not too late to get the flu shot

Yes, we’re still in the flu season, which typically runs from October to the end of May. Many people assume it’s too late to get a flu shot. That’s not true. Health professionals urge you to get the flu vaccine.

According to preliminary estimates based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention weekly influenza surveillance reports, data indicates some attention getting numbers for the U.S population.

The flu can be deadly

The CDC estimates from October 1, 2018 – March 2, 2019

  • 22.8 to 26.3 million flu illnesses
  • 289,000 to 347,000 flu hospitalizations
  • 18,900 to 31,200 flu deaths

Flu spreads most easily when an infected person coughs, talks, or sneezes and the flu virus, through tiny droplets, lands in the nose or mouth of someone standing close by. Recovery from the flu can be challenging, especially for those in high-risk categories.

According to Dr. Jason Bowling, medical director of infection control and prevention at University Health System, for some people it’s more than a nuisance disease. “Every year there are people who die from the flu. It’s a serious illness and even young people can get critically ill with Influenza. It’s important to note that 80 percent of the kids that died from influenza last flu season were unvaccinated,” he said.

Get vaccinated – protect yourself and those around you

University Health System’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bryan Alsip advises, “Getting a flu shot is the smart thing to do. It’s the best protection against becoming ill with influenza and to prevent others from getting the flu, particularly those who cannot receive the vaccine due to a medical contraindication.”

He said the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that everyone six months and older get vaccinated. Those younger than six months are especially vulnerable to Influenza, making it more important that everyone around them be vaccinated.

“In addition, the elderly, those with chronic illnesses, pregnant women, and residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are also at greater risk of acquiring the disease and flu-related complications,” Alsip added. “Protect them by getting your flu vaccine.”

If you want to check out the prevalence of flu in your area, go to the healthmap.org.

Symptoms of the Flu

Most often symptoms of the flu include a fever, feeling like you have a fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache, body or muscle aches and tiredness. A percentage of people get diarrhea and vomiting and despite popular belief, not all people get a fever with the flu.

Getting the flu can go beyond temporary symptoms. In certain people, it can develop into pneumonia, inflammation of the heart, brain or muscle tissues, according to the CDC. Anyone who has chronic medical conditions needs to stay away from others who have the flu. Influenza can exaggerate or worsen pre-existing health problems.

Get in the healthy habit of scheduling an annual flu shot. Each year presents the challenge of fighting off new strains of influenza. It’s not too late to get a flu shot, but going forward getting your shot in early fall is best. You can visit any of our pharmacy locations within University Health System – no appointment needed.