YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – With flu season just around the corner, you’ve probably already started getting inundated with reminders to get your flu shot. But why do we get the flu vaccine in the fall? And why are doctors expecting this season to be the worse than normal?
A change of the seasons is upon us and that also means it’s flu shot season.
“The flu shot is generally very effective in either helping people avoid the flu altogether or mitigating its course, making it a less severe course,” said Health Commissioner Patricia Sweeney.
The Center for Disease Control estimates that in 2016, flu shots prevented 5.1 million influenza illnesses, 2.5 million influenza-related medical visits, 71,000 hospital visits, and 3,000 flu and pneumonia-related deaths.
“It’s a very simple immunization when you come in. There’s a four-strain immunization available this year,” Sweeney said.
Flu trackers actually watch what’s happening on the other side of the world to figure out which flu strains to expect and what kind of flu season to brace for.
The most at-risk individuals include the elderly, pregnant women, and children.
“People are far more vulnerable and can become much weaker with the influenza virus if they become infected when they are older, just like pregnant women. Pregnant women are much more at risk for influenza once they become exposed,” Sweeney said.
So here’s why health officials want you to get the flu shot sooner rather than later.
“It’s not too late anytime during the season but in October is ideal,” Sweeney said. “It takes a good couple of weeks to fully build immunity so once everyone is home for Thanksgiving, you want to be fully immunized. So we like to say October is the ideal time.”
The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine every year.