Last year’s flu shot was only 13% effective due to a mutated version of the virus that made the rounds. This year should be different says Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “So far, the strains in this year’s vaccine seem likely to match.” The flu vaccine is changed yearly to keep up with mutation of the virus and production takes months. It protects against two Type A strains and one or two of the milder Type B strains of flu.
The CDC says everyone 6 months of age and older should be vaccinated, especially those over age 65, young children, pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions such as asthma or heart disease. On average, the flu kills about 24,000 people per year in the U.S. Last year, 145 children died of flu.
If you just can’t handle needles, there are other options available. This year there is a needle-free device called a jet injector that forces the vaccine into a stream of fluid that penetrates the skin. This method can result in the same soreness as the traditional shot and is recommended for adults ages 18-64. The most widely known alternative to the traditional shot is the nasal spray option, which can be used by healthy people ages 2-49.
Approximately 40 million doses of the flu vaccine have already shipped to doctors offices, drugstores and other locations. It takes about 2 weeks for the protection of the vaccine to kick in, so check this item off your to-do list today!