Flu shots aren’t 100% effective, but they’re a key part of avoiding the bug or lessening the symptoms.
The flu shot’s effectiveness this year — or any year — is not 100%. But getting the shot, along with practicing good hand hygiene and taking precautions when caring for someone sick with the flu, will improve your chances of staying healthy this season.
Scientists who devise the flu shot each year have to predict months in advance which bugs will be most common. This year’s task was made more difficult by the late emergence of a variant on a virus known as H3N2 that has been quick to change in the past.
As a result of the H3N2, which hadn’t been anticipated for last year’s vaccine, the shot was only about 30% effective. Developing a good match against H3N2 was part of the reason behind a delay in this year’s vaccine.
Flu Treatment When You Need It
Norton Healthcare has convenient options for flu symptom treatment in kids and adults, including 24/7 access in person or online.
Even when there’s a good match with the virus, the flu shot usually reduces the risk of getting sick with the flu by 40% to 60% overall, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“A flu shot isn’t going to protect everyone, even in a good year. But even with the relatively low effectiveness of last year’s vaccine, it prevented as many as 90,000 hospitalizations,” said Christina M. Breit, M.D., internal medicine physician with Norton Community Medical Associates – Mallard Creek. “The flu shot is your best protection against getting the flu.”
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The CDC recommends that everyone be vaccinated before the end of October. That allows for the antibodies to build a person’s immunity, which takes about two weeks.
Everyone older than 6 months should get a flu shot. Children receiving their very first flu shot will need two doses spaced four weeks apart. If a child under 9 has received only one flu shot in his or her lifetime, that child also will need two doses. That means these children should get their first dose as soon as possible