It’s Never Too Late to Get a Flu Shot

Lydia Johnson, Staff Writer

Lydia Johnson

 

Although the winter months are drawing to a close, people throughout the United States are still getting the flu.
  In the Twin Cities area, there have been 673 influenza related hospitalizations this flu season, being above average specifically for influenza B, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.
According to the CDC, the seasonal flu is reaching more epidemic levels. This year, three children have died from the virus and flu activity is being reported in 37 states.
  The height of the flu season is in February, but the flu still has been prevalent even in mid-March. This proves it is never too late to get a flu shot.
  Patients that typically are affected most are elderly and have chronic pneumonia. Those who are young children or have asthma, diabetes or chronic heart disease also are very susceptible, according to WHS Licensed Practical Nurse Sheila LaPlant.
  The flu vaccine’s effectiveness depends from season to season and ranges from characteristics of the patient and similarity between circulating viruses, according to the CDC.
  “Neglecting to get the flu shot leads to further illness, hospitalization, and in some cases, death. With this in mind, people usually aren’t educated on how dangerous the flu can be,” Said LaPlant. Young adults typically are the least likely to get a flu shot, according to the CDC.
  In other cases, people mainly do not get vaccinated because they simply believe they don’t need it and others worry about side effects, according to NPR.org.
  Once someone gets a shot, they are not immune forever. Viruses are constantly changing and getting ready for their next victim. For best protection, anyone over 6 months of age should get a flu shot annually, according to the CDC.
  Getting the shot annually is important because it protects against influenza viruses which have been most common throughout the 2016-2017 flu season, according to LaPlant.
  “Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  In previous years, a nasal spray vaccine has been available to the public, but has not been an option this year due to ineffectiveness during the 2015-2016 season.
  The mist is made from live and weakened influenza viruses, unlike the flu shot made with inactive viruses, according to the CDC.
  “The nasal spray was most popular in 2015 because it did not require a needle, and was the only available vaccination without use of injection,” said LaPlant. The CDC says that the flu mist efficiency was only 3% for ages 2-17.
  Just keep in mind, you can still get the flu even if you are vaccinated, so always remember to wash your hands and cover your cough.