The viruses that cause the flu circulate year-round, but the number of people who contract them spikes dramatically in the fall. That’s because viruses spread more easily when people begin spending more time indoors. “Flu shots are typically available starting in October,” says Amanda Masheck, RN, the infection preventionist for TriHealth’s McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital (MHMH).
Everyone is at risk for the flu, but for some people, the outcome can be deadly. Last year’s flu season was among the worst in a decade, with up to nearly 43 million Americans contracting the illness, according to the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The flu contributed to as many as 61,200 deaths last year.
“If you get the flu, it can lead to other dangerous illnesses, like pneumonia,” says Masheck. “Thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year, and while they affect people of all ages, they are most dangerous for young children and people over 65.”
It’s important to get vaccinated annually because the viruses that cause the flu are constantly changing. Every year around February, the five World Health Organization Collaborating Centers for Reference and Research on Influenza determine which flu strains will be most common for the upcoming flu season so that the vaccines can be prepared ahead of time.
For the 2019-2020 flu season, there will be a trivalent (three-component) vaccine that protects against two influenza A (H1N1 and H3N2) viruses and one influenza B virus. A four-component (quadrivalent) vaccine will provide protection against an additional influenza B virus.
Flu vaccines reduce the risk of contracting the illness by about 40 to 60 percent. “Even if you do wind up catching the flu, getting vaccinated can often reduce the severity of the illness,” says Masheck.
To get your flu shot or if you are in need of care because you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, call your doctor or check in online to reserve your spot at a TriHealth Priority Care location or visit Oxford Urgent Care.