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Getting a flu shot this season should be high on everyone’s priority list before influenza takes its grip on all age groups. Last year was a very mean flu season, and there are indications this flu season will be as mean. This season our clinic began offering flu vaccinations Oct. 1 for its regular patients, and the sooner a person gets the shot, the better.

A shot does not provide instant protection from illness and that’s why you should get it sooner rather than waiting. A body can take 10 to 14 days to build up protection against influenza viruses circulating during flu season. Vaccines have been updated to better match circulating viruses for the coming season, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This seasons’ shots cover four strains of flu virus. The standard dose can be administered in one shot. A high-dose shot is available for older people. For young children receiving their first flu shot, a second dose a month later is recommended.

You should be getting a flu shot by at least November, especially because of the holiday season. If you’re going to Thanksgiving and family gatherings for the holidays, you’ll have a much greater exposure to the flu virus. Building up immunity ahead of such gatherings is important. And we recommends the stronger vaccine for people age 65 and older.

Harshness of the 2017-18 Flu Season

Last season, influenza took a heavy toll on all age groups, with the highest death count among children in at least five years, CDC data shows.

The CDC has estimated that a severe flu season can kill up to 56,000 people, hospitalize up to 710,000 and sicken up to 35 million. This past season exceeded those figures, collected data showed.

The CDC said between fall 2017 and spring 2018, the flu:

• Killed at least 160 children, making this the deadliest flu season for children since at least 2012-13, when 171 died.

• Hospitalized 105 out of every 100,000 people, hitting those older than 65 the hardest. That is the highest rate of flu hospitalization the CDC has recorded since it started keeping comparable records in 2010.

• Sent feverish, coughing, achy people to doctors’ offices at a peak rate not seen since 2009, when a new swine flu virus caused a pandemic.

The 2017-18 influenza season ran Oct. 1, 2017 to May 19, 2018 and has been classified as a high severity season with high levels of outpatient clinic and emergency room visits.

But the CDC also notes flu is active year-round.

The CDC recommends annual flu shots for everyone older than 6 months. Vaccination rates have slowly risen in recent years, climbing to 43 percent for adults and 59 percent for children in 2016-17.

Flu vaccines typically prevent 40 to 60 percent of flu cases, the CDC said. But that does not mean people should not get vaccinated if there is not 100 percent prevention.

Get Your Flu Shot at Doctors United

Our health department offers shots regardless of insurance coverage. We encourage everyone to get a flu shot, especially since the risks of not getting a flu shot outweigh the positives.

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