More Information on the 2019-20 Flu Season Coming Soon!
Yearly influenza (flu) vaccination is recommended for all people aged 6 months and older. Flu vaccination is still the best tool we have to help prevent against the flu.
While flu spreads every year, the timing, severity, and length of the season varies from one season to another. (See information about current flu activity in the U.S. below.)
Benefits of Flu Vaccination
Even though the flu vaccine varies in how well it works each season, getting the flu vaccine every year helps:
- Keep you from getting sick with flu.
- Reduce the severity of your illness if you got vaccinated, but still get sick from flu.
- Reduce the risk of children dying from flu.*
- Reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization for children, working age adults, and older adults.
- Help protect people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness due to age and/or certain chronic health conditions.
- Be an important preventive tool for people with chronic health conditions.
- Help protect women during and after pregnancy.
*A CDC study published in Pediatrics showed that flu vaccination can be life-saving for children. The study found that half of flu-related deaths in children from 2010 to 2016 occurred in otherwise healthy children, only 22% of whom were fully vaccinated. The same study also showed antiviral treatment was only given in about half of all pediatric flu deaths. Nearly two-thirds of children died within seven days of developing symptoms.
Types of Flu Vaccines
Every year, new flu vaccines are created to help protect against the viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season.
- Trivalent flu vaccines help protect against three flu viruses: an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus, and an influenza B virus.
- Quadrivalent flu vaccines protect against four flu viruses: an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus, and two influenza B viruses.
When to Get the Flu Vaccine
You should get a flu vaccine before flu begins spreading in your community. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for the vaccine to take effect. The CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October if possible. But if you are unable to get vaccinated in early fall, getting the flu vaccine later in the season is still beneficial.
Some children 6 months through 8 years of age will require two doses of flu vaccine for protection from flu. Children who need two doses of flu vaccine should start the vaccination process sooner, because the two doses must be given at least four weeks apart.
Other Ways to Protect Yourself and Your Family
In addition to getting the flu vaccine, your family should take everyday precautions:
- Cover your cough and sneeze
- Wash your hands often
- Stay home from work and/or school when sick, and stay away from sick people
Antiviral drugs like Tamiflu® and Xofluza® are also available for treatment of the flu. If taken early (AS SOON AS YOUR SYMPTOMS BEGIN), antivirals can lessen symptoms, shorten duration of illness, and help prevent severe illness and flu complications. But, not everyone needs to get antivirals. The people recommended to get antivirals are those who are at higher risk of complications and severe illness from flu including those 65 years and older, young children, pregnant women, and people with chronic health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. CDC recommends that healthcare providers treat patients with antivirals as soon as they suspect influenza, and should not wait for confirmation from lab tests.
Flu Activity in the U.S. (Updated on August 1, 2019)
According to the CDC, flu activity is low in the United States. Sadly, a total of 126 children have died due to flu and its complications during the 2018-2019 season.
On February 14, 2019, the CDC released the Interim Estimates of 2018–19 Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness. In the article, the CDC states “Vaccination remains the best method for preventing influenza and its potentially serious complications, including those that can result in hospitalization and death. In particular, vaccination has been found to reduce the risk for influenza-associated deaths in children. During past seasons, including the 2017–18 season, approximately 80% of reported pediatric influenza-associated deaths occurred in children who were not vaccinated. Vaccination also has been found to reduce the risk for influenza-associated hospitalization in pregnant women and can reduce the risk for cardiac events among persons with heart disease.”