With autumn just ahead, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging consumers to plan to get their flu vaccination early this year. Arizona Department of Health Services reports there have already been 12 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza in the past two weeks, from five counties. This is similar to the same time last year.
In the wake of last year’s particularly severe flu season, health officials are stressing the importance of getting a flu shot in the hope that the 2018-2019 flu season won’t be as deadly. The CDC notes that 180 children died from the flu during last year’s flu season; approximately 4 out of five of those children weren’t vaccinated. It was reported that over 700,000 people were hospitalized with flu symptoms last season.
The single best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccination every year. The flu shot is approved for use in people 6 months of age and older, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions. It is still beneficial for anyone who was not vaccinated in early fall to get vaccinated later in the fall or winter because most influenza activity typically occurs in January or later. Though it varies, flu season can last as late as May so it is never too late to get vaccinated.
About two weeks after vaccination, antibodies develop that protect against influenza virus infection. Flu vaccines will not protect against flu-like illnesses caused by non-influenza viruses.
The CDC recommends that everyone six months and older, especially people at high-risk for flu-related complications, get a yearly flu vaccine “preferably by the end of October.” Those at high-risk include:
- Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
- Adults 65 years of age and older
- Pregnant women (and women up to two weeks postpartum)
- Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
Some people should not be vaccinated without first consulting a physician. They include:
- People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs. People with mild allergic reactions (hives) should still be vaccinated.
- People who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination in the past.
- People who developed Guillain-Barré syndrome within 6 weeks of getting an influenza vaccine previously.
- Children less than 6 months of age (influenza vaccine is not approved for use in this age group).
- People who have a moderate or severe illness with a fever should wait to get vaccinated until their symptoms lessen.
If you have questions about whether you should get a flu vaccine, consult your healthcare provider.
YCCHS offers several opportunities to get your flu shot at many rural areas and dates listed below.
If you have insurance, please bring your insurance card. If is not convenient to make one of these events please call 928-771-3122 to make an appointment at one of our three locations in Prescott, Prescott Valley or Cottonwood.