CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — We all know that the flu season is unpredictable, but there are already clues that the upcoming flu season may be another epidemic season.
That is why the Centers for Disease Control has updated its flu vaccine to fight the flu virus for the 2019-2020 season.
The CDC said manufacturers have projected they will provide between 162 million and 169 million doses of the vaccine this year in the United States.
Many people wait until October to get their flu shots, but doctors want the public to start thinking about getting the flu vaccine now, and certainly before Thanksgiving.
“The main reason to get the flu vaccine is to prevent complications and serious illness at times," said Thomas-Spann Clinic’s Dr. Isaac Guerrero. "You want to get it early on because it takes your immune system several weeks to mount a response.”
While there are many misconceptions about the flu vaccine, one of the most common is that it gives people the flu. While reactions to the flu shot may include a low-grade fever or muscle aches, the vaccine cannot cause the flu virus.
“Early on, it hits very quickly," said Guerrero. "A lot of folks will be very fatigued, they will get a high fever, body aches, a little bit of a cough, and those are some of the symptoms that vary from colds that usually take a little time to develop."
Flu shots can also reduce your risk for complications and passing it to other people, especially pregnant women, young children and the elderly.
“The vaccine is recommended for anyone over 6 months and essentially until you are very elderly," Guerrero said. "People who tend to get the virus most are the very young and the very old, who have the serious complications. And in terms of pregnancy, you definitely want to get the flu vaccine to help prevent any complications during the pregnancy."
But keep in mind that receiving the flu vaccine anytime during the season is better than not getting it at all.
“The virus is around the whole year, although again, peak season-wise would be say from December through February, when people start getting infected and increase numbers about October time,” Guerrero said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that last year there were 37 million to 43 million flu illnesses in the U.S., and 36,400 to 61,200 flu-related deaths.
• The best way to prevent flu is by getting vaccinated each year.
• Vaccination is especially important for high risk persons: young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart/lung disease and people 65 years and older.
• Avoid close contact with sick people
• While sick, limit contact with others
• CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone
• Cover your nose/mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
• Wash your hands often with soap and water
• Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
Flu signs and symptoms usually come on suddenly. People who are sick with flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:
• Fever or feeling feverish/chills
• Sore throat
• Runny or stuffy nose
• Muscle or body aches
• Fatigue (tiredness)
• Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
• If you are sick with flu, antiviral drugs can be used to treat your illness. When used for treatment, antiviral drugs can lessen symptoms and shorten the time you are sick by 1 or 2 days. They also can prevent serious flu complications, like pneumonia.