Vaccine-weary Americans today will hear a very important message from their doctors in the fall.
This is the message: Don’t miss your flu shot. Seniors, please request a special extra strength one.
The Associated Press reports that flu levels were at an all-time low during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although it’s impossible to predict whether the U.S. will be as affected or not, “last season we didn’t know if flu was here or not.” According to Richard Webby, an influenza specialist at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, Tenn.
Starting at 6 months old, annual flu shots are recommended.
Flu is especially dangerous to people over 65, pregnant women, those with certain health conditions, such as heart or lung disease, and elderly people.
Dr. Aaron Glatt M.D. is the chair of the Department of Medicine at Mount Sinai South Nassau and chief of Infectious Diseases. He stated last week that “it’s a perfectly good moment for people to get the shot.”
He is also an epidemiologist in hospitals.
Here are the top medical and health professionals’ opinions on flu season.
Additional protection for people 65 years and older
People get less immune to flu shots as they age.
People 65 years and older are encouraged to purchase a special type of insurance for additional protection.
There are three options. Fluzone High-Dose, Flublok, and Fluzone Low-Dose each contain higher levels of the main antiflu ingredient.
Fluad Adjuvanted is another option, which comes in a regular dose but has a special ingredient that boosts people’s immune system, according to the AP.
Seniors should be able to ask their doctor what type of flu shot they are taking.
However, most flu vaccines are administered in pharmacies. Some websites such as CVS automatically point people to senior doses if they have the right birth date.
Webby of Memphis suggested that older friends and relatives be informed about senior shots in case they aren’t told during vaccinations.
Webby stated that they should ask Webby, according to the AP. He said that “the bottom line is they work better” for this age group.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is better to get a standard flu shot if a place isn’t available for senior-targeted doses.
The AP reports that all flu vaccines in America, including those for people younger than 65, are “quadrivalent” which means they protect against four flu strains.
There are options for younger people, such as shots for egg allergies or a nasal spray version called FluMist.
Many people have given up masking.
Australia has just had its worst flu season in five years. What happens in the Southern Hemisphere winters often prefigures what the Northern Hemisphere can expect, Dr. Andrew Pekosz of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health noted to the AP.
Many people have also abandoned the masking and distancing precautions that were used earlier in the COVID-19 epidemic to help prevent the spread of other respiratory bugs like the flu.
Pekosz stated that this poses a risk to children, especially those who have not been exposed to influenza viruses before.
According to the AP, Dr. Jason Newland is a Washington University pediatric infectious disease specialist. He stated that this year, there will be an influenza season similar to what we had before the pandemic.
Children’s hospitals are already seeing an unusually early spike in RSV or respiratory syncytial viruses — and there are concerns flu will strike even earlier than usual in Australia.
According to the CDC, flu vaccination should be administered by October 31st.
The flu shot can be administered at any time during flu season. Protection takes approximately two weeks to kick in.
The U.S. anticipates that 173 million to 183 million doses will be available this year.
Experts say you can have both a flu shot as well as an updated COVID-19 booster simultaneously. One in each arm will reduce soreness.
Dr. Fred Davis is the Northwell Health associate chair of Emergency Medicine in Long Island, New York. He said that he sees many flu cases each year at the emergency department.
Davis recommends that flu shots be administered before October 31st, as flu cases are likely to increase.
Davis stated, “It’s important that individuals six months or older and those who have not suffered from severe allergic reactions in the past get their flu shot every other year.”