The community is safer when everyone receives the flu vaccine!
Only about one in three upstate New York adults receives an annual flu vaccine, according to a review of New York state health data by Univera Healthcare. The low vaccination rate occurs each year, despite evidence of the vaccine’s flu-prevention effectiveness, and its ability to reduce flu severity. The flu vaccine is widely available at doctor’s offices, area pharmacies, various clinics, and other locations.
“If this flu season is anything like last year’s, it could be a severe one,” said LouAnne Giangreco, MD, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield medical director. The 2017-2018 season was classified by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as “high severity” overall, and for the first time since the 2003-2004 flu season, “high severity” among each age group.
The CDC recommends that everyone ages six months and older receives the flu vaccine annually. While it’s never too early, or too late in the flu season to receive the vaccine, the CDC encourages doing so by the end of October, to help build the broader community’s resistance to this season’s strain before it can establish, and start spreading among the population. Children ages 6 months, through 8 years who require two doses of the flu vaccine should receive their first dose as soon as possible, to allow the second dose (which must be administered four weeks or more later) to be administered by the end of October.
Each year in the U.S., there are 2.5 million flu cases that result in hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations, and tens of thousands of deaths. One person with the flu can infect other people one day before any symptoms develop, and up to about seven days after they become sick. Statistically, every 100 people with the flu will infect 127 other people. The virus can spread to others up to about six feet away, mainly by microscopic droplets expelled into the air when people cough, sneeze, or even talk.
“Your decision to skip the flu vaccine this year could result in you being the person who passes the virus around to everyone at home, the office, school, church or the gym,” cautioned Giangreco. “Even worse, by not getting the flu vaccine, you could be the person to pass the flu to a young child, an elderly person, or someone who has a compromised immune system, resulting in illness.”
Reasons people give for skipping the flu vaccine
“The flu vaccine is often covered in full by health insurance, and you usually don’t need an appointment to receive the vaccine at a pharmacy,” said Giangreco. “There’s really no excuse for not getting the flu vaccine.”