Why you shouldn’t postpone your flu vaccine

By Katia Hetter | CNN

Whereas the US Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention recommends that everybody 6 months and older ought to obtain the annual flu vaccine, most individuals haven’t – not less than not but. Solely 22.7% of adults and 20.8% of kids have gotten the flu shot this fall, in response to CDC information from October 14.

Why is it necessary for everybody eligible to obtain the flu shot? How efficient is it? Do individuals who have had the flu earlier than nonetheless want a shot? Why is it crucial yearly? When is the very best time to get it? And what else ought to folks do to remain wholesome because the climate will get colder?

To assist us with these questions, I spoke with our CNN Wellness medical knowledgeable, Dr. Leana Wen. Dr. Wen is an emergency doctor and professor of well being coverage and administration on the George Washington College Milken Institute College of Public Well being. She beforehand served as Baltimore’s well being commissioner.

CNN: Is it too late to get the flu shot?

Dr. Leana Wen: By no means. Flu season has not peaked but. Pharmacies and plenty of docs’ workplaces will provide the flu shot, so name forward and schedule your shot. Many pharmacies don’t require appointments, however some would possibly. If in case you have a health care provider’s appointment arising, you may most likely get your shot then, though you must verify that they’ve the flu shot obtainable. Your place of job or native well being division would possibly provide pictures, too. It’s high-quality to obtain the flu vaccine from any of those place — simply don’t delay getting it.

CNN: Is there any benefit to ready till later, when flu season does peak?

Wen: You shouldn’t wait. It’s greatest to obtain the vaccine earlier than the height of flu season, which often happens between December and March. The flu is already circulating, although, and you may get contaminated forward of peak season. When you obtain the vaccine now, it would final via this 12 months’s flu season.

CNN: Why is it necessary for everybody who’s eligible to obtain the flu shot?

Wen: The flu may be harmful, and the flu vaccine has two necessary optimistic results. The primary is to cut back the prospect of extreme sickness. In keeping with research cited by the CDC, vaccinated sufferers had a 26% decrease danger of intensive care unit admission and a 31% decrease danger of dying from the flu in comparison with unvaccinated people. Within the 2019-2020 12 months, the flu vaccine prevented an estimated 105,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations.

The second cause to get the flu vaccine is to cut back an infection. Every year, the precise effectiveness relies on how properly the vaccine developed matches the strains in circulation, however it’s usually 40% to 60%.

That’s important on each a private and particular person stage. Being sick with the flu, even when it doesn’t end in hospitalization, may be depressing. Folks can have fever, fatigue, achiness and cough for every week or longer. Children can miss college and adults miss work and different obligations.

I get the flu vaccine yearly, and I make it possible for my husband and two youngsters do too, as a result of we wish to scale back the opportunity of sickness attributable to flu. As well as, being vaccinated helps to cut back the chance of infecting others round us, which is essential to me as a healthcare supplier who takes care of weak sufferers.

CNN: Do individuals who have had the flu earlier than nonetheless want a shot?

Wen: When you had flu in years previous, then sure, you do nonetheless have to obtain the flu vaccine this 12 months. The immunity you developed earlier than wanes.

Additionally, many individuals would possibly say that they’ve had the “flu” once they actually had a chilly or one other viral an infection. I hear from my sufferers that they don’t want the flu vaccine this 12 months as a result of they’ve already had “the flu” however they by no means truly examined optimistic for influenza. Having one other virus doesn’t defend you in opposition to influenza, and you continue to have to get the flu shot.

CNN: Why is a flu shot crucial yearly?