Last year's flu season was a rough one. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director, Tom Frieden, last year's flu vaccine was only 13 percent effective against the abnormal strains that appeared, he told the Associated Press. This flu shot is usually 50 to 60 percent effective.
Therefore, health officials are getting ready for this year's flu season by boosting their efforts to get people vaccinated. Health officials expect to give out about 171 to 179 million flu doses of the flu vaccinations this year. As of Oct. 2, about 98.5 million doses have already been given out.
Flu season in the United States starts this month, and generally peaks between the months of December and February. According to the CDC, this year's flu season is expected to begin this month and ramp up in November. Therefore, the agency recommends that anyone aged six months or older get the flu shot by October. So for those of you who haven't yet received a flu shot, make sure to get yours as soon as possible. Once received, it takes about two weeks for the antibodies to proliferate and protect you against the flu. This is the best way to make sure that people stay safe from the virus before flu season really picks up. You can thereby protect yourself, as well as others from getting sick.
This year, there are four ways to receive the flu vaccination. They include an intramuscular vaccine, a intradermal vaccine, a jet injector, and a nasal spray vaccine. The flu shot is covered by insurance. The Affordable Care Act requires that insurance plans cover immunization free of charge. However, your insurance may not cover vaccination at just any location so make sure to look into where you can get it done before hand. According to Reuters, about 79 percent of employers with high-deductible health insurance plans offer employees free flu shots, while 67 percent of employers with traditional health insurance plans offer workers employees free flu shots.
According to the CDC, flu symptoms include fever (sometimes), cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue, and possibly vomiting and diarrhea. Most people recover within a few days, however some people can develop complications like pneumonia or others that can be life-threatening. People who are at high risk for catching the flu include people over 65 years old, people with certain chronic medical conditions such as asthma or heart disease, young children, and pregnant women.
The best way to prevent the flu this season is to get vaccinated. It is also important to practice good hygiene which can also aid in protecting you against the flu. Some everyday preventive measures you can take include avoiding close contact with people who are sick, staying home if you are sick, cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing, frequently washing your hands, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth to limit the spread of germs, and cleaning surfaces or objects that may have been contaminated by germs.