Flu cases reported across Midwest; shot now available

A flu shot reduces your chances of getting influenza, which 60,000 to 80,000 people die from each year.

Male recieving a band-aid on arm after a flu shot

Influenza kills tens of thousands of people every year. In the Midwest region, flu season can begin as early as November, but physicians usually see the number of cases peak between January and February, and trickle off by late March. Because flu season has an unpredictable start, it is important to immunize as early as possible.

Last year’s flu season had one of the highest rates of influenza-related illnesses and deaths. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention is a great resource to learn more about the symptoms and risks of influenza, and specifically lists who is highly encouraged to get vaccinated to prevent the flu.

Preventing the flu with the vaccine

The 2017 vaccine did not perform as well as physicians would have liked. However, Dr. Clifford Mauriello of Sanford Pediatric Infectious Diseases says, “Limited protection is still better than no protection. Influenza vaccination also can attenuate influenza disease, so if you are immunized and still catch influenza, you may not be as ill or be ill for as long as those who aren’t vaccinated.”

“Last year the vaccine was 10 to 30 percent effective, but limited protection of the vaccine is better than no vaccine at all,” he said.

Dr. Mauriello said that physicians are not sure yet how well the 2018 vaccine will work, but he believes this year’s vaccination will outperform last year’s version.

Who should get vaccinated

Receiving the flu vaccine is universally recommended for anyone 6 months or older. Influenza is a contagious respiratory virus that can cause severe illness or death. Vaccinations can prevent influenza A and B, not only in those who receive the vaccination but others in the community as well.

Dr. Mauriello recommends that everyone should get their flu shot for the upcoming season, but those who are most susceptible to influenza and should receive their vaccination include:

  • Young children
  • Those over the age of 65
  • People who have chronic pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, cystic fibrous, diabetes, chemotherapy, HIV or AIDS, chronic liver or heart disease, kidney disease

“Influenza is particularly dangerous for the elderly, the very young, and those with chronic diseases,” said Dr. Mauriello. These patients can be very ill if they catch influenza and require hospitalization or intensive care.  Vaccination can prevent influenza illness and hospitalization and death.”

Where to get vaccines

Sanford Health offers the flu shot at its clinics without an appointment. The HealthMap Vaccine Finder is also a good resource.

You should check out your health plan because employers often pay for you to get vaccinated.

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Posted In Family Medicine, Healthy Living, Immunizations

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