Centers for Disease Control
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that during the 2017–2018 flu season 48.8 million people became ill with influenza and there were nearly 80,000 deaths.
Seasonal influenza (flu) viruses are detected year-round in the United States, however, flu viruses are most common during the fall and winter. The exact timing and duration of flu seasons can vary, but influenza activity often begins to increase in October. Most of the time flu activity peaks between December and February, although activity can last as late as May.
When should I get vaccinated?
Getting vaccinated before flu activity begins helps protect you once flu season starts in your community. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for the body’s immune response to fully respond and for you to be protected, so make plans to get vaccinated. CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October. However, getting vaccinated later can still be beneficial. CDC recommends ongoing flu vaccination if influenza viruses are circulating, even into January or later.
Children aged 6 months through 8 years old who need two doses of vaccine should get the first dose as soon after vaccine is available to allow time to get the second dose before the start of flu season. The two doses should be given at least 4 weeks apart.
How long does a flu vaccine protect me from getting flu?
Multiple studies conducted over different seasons and across flu vaccine types and influenza virus subtypes have shown that the body’s immunity to influenza viruses (acquired either through natural infection or vaccination) declines over time. The decline in antibodies is influenced by several factors, including the antigen used in the vaccine, the age of the person being vaccinated, and the person’s general health (for example, certain chronic health conditions may have an impact on immunity).
Older people and others with weakened immune systems may not generate the same amount of antibodies after vaccination; further, their antibody levels may drop more quickly when compared to young, healthy people.
Getting vaccinated each year provides the best protection against flu throughout flu season. It’s important to get a flu vaccine every season, even if you got vaccinated the season before and the viruses in the flu vaccine have not changed for the current season.
Where can I get a flu vaccine?
Flu vaccines are offered by many doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, pharmacies and college health centers, as well as by many employers, and even by some schools.
Even if you don’t have a regular doctor or nurse, you can get a flu vaccine somewhere else, like a health department, pharmacy, urgent care clinic, and often your school, college health center, or work.
Contact your local health department or drug stores to get information about getting a flu vaccination.
Source: Center for Disease Control, CDC
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