ibusinesslines.com October 23, 2018

New flu vaccine recommendations issued as flu season approaches

29 September 2018, 05:40 | Melissa Porter

Mass immunisation to combat the flu

Health officials working to make flu shot more effective

The vaccine has been updated to reflect circulating strains that are prevalent in the southern hemisphere at this time during this hemisphere's winter season.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are among the agencies that recommend getting the seasonal flu shot as early as it's available, and that's good advice, said Dr. Sharon Reed with Bon Secours Medical Group.

Autumn has just begun and federal health officials are already urging people to start preparing for another potentially nasty flu season.

The 2017-2018 season was driven by a flu strain, known as the H3N2 virus, which tends to put more people in the hospital and cause more deaths, particularly among young children and the elderly.

"We can all do our part in keeping flu numbers down by getting a flu shot before the season really hits hard".

Although there are concerns that adults age 65 and older are more likely to have waning protection over time, research shows antibodies are still present in high levels six months after the shot, and, more importantly, even these lower levels of antibodies help prevent the flu. The nasal spray flu vaccine is now a recommended option for influenza vaccination.

Safranek said people should go ahead and get the shot now if they have an opportunity at a workplace clinic or an upcoming doctor's appointment.

The seasonal vaccines are meant to protect against the influenza strains experts believe will be the most common during the flu season.

To compare with other years in the history of having the flu shot, the flu typically kills about 12,000 Americans in a mild year.

The number is thought to be the highest death toll for the flu since the winter of 1976-77.

Overall, the United States experienced one of the most severe flu seasons in recent decades.

The vaccine performed better against some strains than others. Vaccines typically come in trivalent (protecting against three viruses - two A-strains and one B-strain) or quadrivalent (protecting against four strains - two A-strains and two B-strains).

"I think a lot of people had a bad experience previous year", she said. CDC recommends that healthcare providers administer prescription antiviral medication as a second line of defense as soon as possible to patients with confirmed or suspected flu who are hospitalized, have severe illness, or may be at higher risk for flu complications.?

Health officials say the vaccine protects against four different strains of the flu virus.

This report contains material from the Associated Press.

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