On Sept. 26, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases officially kicked off campaigns to encourage people to get their annual flu vaccinations. A stronger-than-average vaccination rate is needed for what is predicted to be a challenging season, experts said.
To gain insight on the upcoming U.S. flu season, health officials look to the Southern Hemisphere, where winter and flu season occurs earlier. In Australia, the recent flu season was severe, eclipsing 2017-2018, the country’s previous worst season on record. That season also set records in the U.S., with an estimated 79,000 deaths. Flu activity also spiked earlier than usual in Australia this season.
According to survey data from NFID, 60% of adults recognize that getting a flu shot is the best way to prevent flu deaths — but only 52% are planning to be vaccinated this season. Among those at high risk, 25% said they were not planning to get vaccinated.
The survey also explored why some adults are skipping their vaccines. About half said they thought the flu shot was not effective enough. About a third were concerned about side effects. And about one-fifth of respondents said they worried about contracting the flu from the flu shot, a belief that is mistaken.
Can I get vaccinated and still get flu? Yes. It’s possible to get sick with flu even if you have been vaccinated (although you won’t know for sure unless you get a flu test). This is possible for the following reasons:
- You may be exposed to a flu virus shortly before getting vaccinated or during the period that it takes the body to gain protection after getting vaccinated. This exposure may result in you becoming ill with flu before the vaccine begins to protect you. (Antibodies that provide protection develop in the body about 2 weeks after vaccination.)
- You may be exposed to a flu virus that is not included in the seasonal flu vaccine. There are many different flu viruses that circulate every year. A flu vaccine is made to protect against the three or four flu viruses that research suggests will be most common.
What happens in the body when someone has flu? Flu viruses usually infect the respiratory tract (i.e., the airways of the nose, throat and lungs). As the infection progresses, the body’s immune system responds to fight the virus. This results in inflammation that can trigger respiratory symptoms such as cough and sore throat. The immune system response also can trigger fever and cause muscle or body aches. When infected people cough, sneeze, or talk, they can spread flu viruses in respiratory droplets to people who are nearby. People might also get flu by touching a contaminated surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.
Most people who become sick will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people may become more severely ill. Following flu infection, moderate complications such as secondary ear and sinus infections can occur. Pneumonia is a serious flu complication that can result from either flu virus infection alone or from co-infection of flu virus and bacteria.
Contact Yavapai County Community Health Services at 928-771-3122 to schedule an appointment at our locations in Prescott, Prescott Valley and Cottonwood, and now on the 4th Friday of each month in Chino Valley.