Get ready for flu season
Last year’s flu season was nasty.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) labeled it a “high severity season” because the circulating strains of influenza virus were especially virulent and the season lasted longer than usual.
It’s impossible to predict when flu season will start, but it could be as early as October. The CDC recommends getting your flu shot by the end of October, but the vaccine is available now and it’s not a bad idea to get it earlier rather than later. It takes about two weeks after vaccination to be fully immunized.
Flu shots are available at your doctor’s office, local pharmacies, urgent care clinics and some employers. If you have an ACA-compliant health plan, the cost should be covered in full.
It’s also difficult to predict how severe a flu season will be. If you want your best chance at avoiding the flu, or at least suffering less, get a flu shot.
And make sure your kids get theirs, too.
Kids are flu magnets
As any parent knows, when kids head back to school, they start bringing home germs—colds, pink eye, stomach bugs and the flu.
When more children are immunized, flu and other germs don’t spread as rapidly.
Last year 180 children died from the flu; 80% of those had NOT received the flu vaccine.
A seasonal flu shot is recommended for everyone 6 months and older. Babies and children under the age of 8 who have never had a flu shot may need two, four weeks apart, so allow enough time for that.
This year the nasal flu vaccine, FluMist, will be available again, but the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) believes the standard flu shot is better. (Although they accept the nasal vaccine is better than no vaccine!)
The 100th anniversary of the 1918 flu
One hundred years ago a flu pandemic swept across the globe. Known as the Spanish flu, it infected one third of the planet’s population and killed between 20 and 50 million people.
It’s easy to understand why public health professionals worry about when—not if—another flu pandemic will arrive.
At least we have flu shots now, which they didn’t have in 1918, and we have better medical treatments. But another flu pandemic will still take a huge toll on the world’s health and economy.
If you’re interested in learning more about the 1918 flu, here are some of my favorite books/DVDs on the topic: