Possible delays in delivery of flu vaccine

Still plenty of time to get your flu shot

A national delay in delivery of flu vaccine means that you might have to wait a little to get your flu shot. But according to an infectious disease specialist, there is no reason for alarm.

“The vaccine is a little late this year, but you’ll still have time to get a flu shot before the flu season is fully underway,” said Paul S. Schulz, M.D., infectious disease physician with Norton Infectious Disease Specialists. “It took longer this year for the World Health Organization and U.S. Food and Drug Administration to identify the strains needed produce the vaccine, which caused the delay in production.

“There was a strain of the flu that emerged late last year and needed to be taken into account for this year’s vaccine. These H3N2 strains change frequently and make it more difficult when developing a vaccine.”

Norton Healthcare physicians’ offices and Norton Prompt Care at Walgreens locations will offer widespread vaccinations beginning in October. High risk patients may be able to get it sooner. Please contact your primary care provider.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone over 6 months old get a flu shot.

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“Getting vaccinated earlier in the season is recommended, since it takes two weeks after getting the vaccine for your body to be protected,” said Lori M. Scales, M.D., internal medicine/pediatrics with Norton Community Medical Associates – Mt. Washington. “But if you miss the start of the season, you should still get the vaccine, as every bit of protection will help.”

The highest number of people get sick with the flu in December and January. The season can last into May, according to the CDC.

In the 2018-2019 flu season, more than 80,000 people died from the flu. It was the longest flu season in 10 years, at 21 weeks, according to the CDC.

The flu is easily spread, as people are contagious a day before they feel sick and up to seven days after. While the vaccine is not 100% effective, it reduces the risk. And if you are one of the few who still get the flu despite the vaccine, you are not likely to be as sick. You also have a lower risk of getting pneumonia.

People at highest risk for complications from the flu are children younger than age 5; adults over 65; people with heart disease, lung disease, diabetes and other chronic conditions; people with weakened immune systems; and pregnant women. Also, residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are at high risk.

Learn the difference between the flu and a stomach virus and how to stop its spread.

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