According to the Centers of Disease Control, fewer than half the people in the USA get the flu vaccine. Keep in mind that the flu kills an average of more than 30,000 people per year. Flu season is traditionally November – April with peak flu season in January – February . However, for any given flu season, one cannot predict when peak flu season will be. Know that the flu virus can be detected year round, though at very low levels during the summer months. So, the recommendation is to get the flu vaccine as soon as possible, after the vaccine becomes available usually in September or October.
This 2015-2016 year, flu protection will be for Flu A,B, and swine flu, namely an A/Switzerland-like virus for H3N2, a B/Phuket-like strain for type B, and lastly an A/California-like strain for H1N1. This upcoming flu season, 2 of the 3 strains have been changed to make the vaccine more effective and is currently being used in the Southern Hemisphere where flu season is in progress.
The flu vaccine is available in the form of a shot; nasal spray; or, intra dermal (under the skin though not for those younger than 18 yrs or older than 64 yrs). All forms of the vaccine work. We need to get the flu vaccine yearly because the flu strains that make us sick can change annually. Contrary to popular opinion, the flu vaccine will not make you sick. Remember though, the flu vaccine takes about 2 weeks to begin to protect against the flu after one receives the vaccine.
The flu vaccine is available for all age groups except for babies under 6 months of age. Pregnant woman should receive the flu vaccine which will protect not only the mother against the flu but also their baby for as long as the 1st 6 months after birth. Talk with your doctor before getting the flu vaccine if (1) you have allergy to eggs or any other ingredient in the vaccine /previous reaction to the flu vaccine; (2) if you are “not feeling well”/sick or with fever; (3)or, if you had or have any paralyzing illness like Guillain-Barre Syndrome.
On the other hand, the flu nasal spray should not be given to children younger than 2 yrs or adults 50 yrs or older; those with allergy to eggs or previous reaction to the flu vaccine; children or adolescents on long term aspirin therapy; pregnant woman; those with weakened immune systems/immunosuppressed; children between 2-4 yrs of age with asthma or history of wheezing over the previous 12 months; and, people caring for those who are immunocompromised (that person needs to avoid contact with the immunocompromised individual for 7 days after getting the intranasal vaccine ).
The flu vaccine is widely available at medical offices/clinics, pharmacies, and work places. No excuses. Bottom line: get the vaccine early in the flu season and protect yourself, family, and work colleagues against flu transmission. Also, practice good hygiene with hand washing, covering your cough and sneezes, and not sharing utensils, towels, blankets , pillow cases,and unclean clothing to lessen transmission.