Flu Shots Encouraged as Flu Season Arrives
Published on 09 October 2018
With the 2017-18 flu season ranking as one of the most severe in more than a decade, the College is encouraging area residents to get their flu shots now to ensure they are prepared for the season to come.
Characterized by the spread of the Influenza A (H3N2) virus, the 2017-18 flu season was classified by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as a “high severity” season across all age groups. The season featured high influenza-related hospitalization rates, high rates of outpatient clinic and emergency room visits for the flu and widespread influenza activity nationwide over an extended period of time.
“Last season was rough,” said Nicole Gattas, Pharm.D., BCPS, FAPhA, associate professor of pharmacy practice at the College. “We’re hoping things won’t be as bad this year, but since every flu season is so different, it is hard to predict exactly how individuals will be affected and which flu strains will cause the most illnesses. The only way to ensure you’re protected is to get a flu shot, and get it early.”
Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness characterized by a variety of symptoms including fever, cough, body aches, headaches and fatigue.
The CDC considers October 1 to be the official start of the flu season, and the season typically lasts through April. CDC guidelines suggest that everyone over 6 months of age should get a flu vaccine annually. The shot is especially important for those with a high-risk for developing flu-related complications. These groups include children younger than five, adults aged 65 or older, pregnant women and those with medical conditions such as asthma, chronic lung disease, heart disease, diabetes or other chronic conditions.
“Influenza is a serious disease that can be deadly,” said Gattas. “Once a shot is given, it takes about two weeks to become effective, so it’s always best to get vaccinated early so that the body can build up immunity. You definitely don’t want to wait until your family members, co-workers and friends get sick to get your shot.”
In the coming weeks, free flu shots will be available at a variety of locations across the St. Louis area. Individuals can also get shots at their physician’s office, area medical clinics and local pharmacies.
“With the majority of community pharmacies now offering immunization services, the local pharmacy can be a very convenient place to go for a flu shot,” said Gattas. “But, regardless of the location, the important thing is for area residents to get immunized.”