This is a sponsored post written on behalf of #FightFlu, an effort by the Center for Disease Control and The Motherhood.
Last week Emily visited the pediatrician for her 11 year old well visit. It was a visit she had been dreading because she remembered from last year’s trip to the doctor’s office that this would be the year she needed shots in the form of vaccines to keep her healthy from preventable diseases. While the nurse was running through a list of vaccines she would be getting, I was surprised when she asked if we had already gotten the flu shot.
Thinking the flu shot was the most effective when administered in the fall before the start of flu season, I learned that seasonal flu typically peaks between December and February and can last as late as May. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends getting vaccinated as long as flu viruses are circulating especially since this year is shaping up to be a bad one.
Why did the nurse ask if we had gotten our flu shots? Probably because as of early November 2014, fewer than half of Americans had reported getting a flu vaccine. And I get it. In the hustle and bustle of life, it’s easy to forget until someone you know gets sick and stays sick for a long time. Or perhaps you’re not sure of the effectiveness when it always seems that there’s a mismatch between the vaccine and strains that are really hitting people hard.
The Importance of the Flu Vaccine
While there are always concerns about the effectiveness of the flu vaccine, the CDC continues to urge people to get the flu shot since vaccination may still offer some protection. Despite this year’s vaccine being a poor match for the H3N2 virus that is the most predominant and nasty strain of the flu virus, an annual flu vaccination is the first and most important step in protecting against flu and its potentially serious complications.
And honestly, you never know how important it can be to get the flu vaccine. There have been many years where strains of the flu virus that circulate late in the season that are a good match for the flu vaccine. If you’re still not sure about getting a flu vaccine, here are 7 ways vaccinations can help protect agains the flu:
- Annual flu vaccination is the first and most important step in protecting against flu and its potentially serious complications.
- The flu vaccine protects against three or four different influenza viruses, depending on which vaccine you get (trivalent or quadrivalent).
- Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations and deaths.
- Vaccination is particularly important for people at high risk of serious flu-related complications and their close contacts. (People at high risk include infants, pregnant women, kids and adults with chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, or heart disease, and adults aged 65 and older.)
- Even when some circulating viruses are different from the vaccine viruses, CDC continues to recommend flu vaccination as it may still offer some protection.
- While this year’s vaccine may not work as well against the drifted H3N2 viruses, it can still protect many people and prevent flu-related complications.
- If we have a severe season getting a vaccine that provides even partial protection may still be more important than ever.
The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated every year but good health habits can help stop the spread of germs and prevent the flu and other respiratory illness.
If you do get sick with flu-like symptoms, contact a doctor right away and take antivirals if your doctor prescribes them. Quick antiviral treatment can mean the difference between life and death for some high-risk individuals.
6 Things to Know About Flu Antiviral Medicines Just in Case You Get the Flu
- Antiviral drugs can be used to treat flu illness and prevent serious flu complications.Treatment with antivirals works best when begun within 48 hours of getting sick, but can still be beneficial when given later in the course of illness.
- Treatment with flu antiviral drugs can make flu illness milder and shorter. Treatment with antivirals also can lessen serious flu complications that can result in hospitalization or death.
- Antiviral drugs become even more important when circulating flu viruses are different from the vaccine viruses, which can mean that the vaccine doesn’t work as well in protecting against infection with those viruses.
- Antiviral drugs are effective across all age and risk groups.
- Studies show that antiviral drugs are under-prescribed for high risk people who get flu.
- Treating high risk people or people who are very sick with flu with antiviral drugs is very important. It can mean the difference between having a milder illness instead of very serious illness that could result in a hospital stay.
Join me for a Twitter party TODAY- Tuesday, January 27- to #FightFlu
- Get a flu vaccine every year
- Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs
- Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them
If you can’t Tweet with us, take a look at these helpful resources from the CDC:
- Information about how antiviral medications can be used to prevent or treat influenza when influenza activity is present in your community: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/antivirals/index.htm
- It’s Not Too Late to Vaccinate
- Flu Vaccination: The Best Way to Protect Yourself and the Ones You Love from Flu
This post is part of the blogger program by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and The Motherhood, who compensated me for my time. Opinions shared here are my own.