Although getting your flu vaccination is probably the last thing you’re thinking about in August, recent news sources have reported that flu vaccines are now available and are being offered in preparation for the fast-approaching winter months. Experts say that prevention is key when it comes to fighting the flu, and it’s never too early to get your seasonal flu shot.
Saint Louis Today reports that the 2013 influenza season lasted from October until May, and the 2013-2014 winter season had a particularly rough January in terms of flu cases. Unlike the vaccines that Americans are most familiar with — when one vaccination is enough to protect you for your entire life — the flu shot is something that needs to be taken annually, and it isn’t always 100% effective.
Each year, scientists collect and monitor virus activity samples from around the world and develop a new vaccine which protects patients against the particular strains that have been deemed most likely to spread in the coming season. It is reported that the vaccine for the 2014-2015 season will contain a vaccination against the 2009 H1N1 strain, which caused a significant amount of illnesses this past season as well.
Although it’s recommended that every individual has an annual flu shot, experts note that some individuals — especially pregnant women, small children, and the elderly — are particularly at risk. It’s estimated that anywhere between 5 and 20 percent of all Americans get the flu every year, but with recent vaccine changes, it’s possible that this percentage will start tending toward the lower end of the spectrum. Changes, such as a higher dosage for the elderly and an intranasal spray for children, will hopefully make the vaccination even more effective, while organizations that provide free flu shots could make the vaccination more available to all Americans.