Influenza season is here, and now is the time to get your annual influenza (flu) vaccine, also known as the “flu shot.”
Although the U.S. has had mild flu seasons the last two winters, this flu season could be different. In the countries of the Southern Hemisphere the most recent flu season was the worst in five years, with influenza A (H3N2) circulating.
The A (H3N2) viruses have been associated with more severe influenza seasons compared to other flu viruses that have circulated in years past, and the U.S. could see it this season. As people resume their normal routines, more people may be exposed to circulating respiratory viruses like flu and the virus that causes COVID-19.
Public Health officials expect both influenza and SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, to be present and spread in Idaho at the same time. Vaccination against respiratory viruses can help prevent hospitalization and death.
To protect against the flu, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone 6 months of age or older get the flu vaccine each year in September or October. However, vaccination after October can still be helpful since flu seasons generally last into spring. CDC bases recommendations on the Advisory Committee on Immunization (ACIP).
Getting the flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community against the flu. In the U.S. flu vaccination prevented an estimated 7.5 million illnesses, 3.7 million medical visits, 105,000 hospitalizations, and 6,300 deaths associated with influenza during the 2019-2020 flu season.
The 2022-2023 flu vaccinations are estimated by scientists to protect against four different influenza viruses that may circulate during the upcoming flu season: two different influenza A viruses and two different influenza B viruses. Medical visits for the flu can be reduced up to 60 percent when the vaccines effectively match the viruses circulating in a season.
Read more about vaccine effectiveness: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/vaccines-work/vaccineeffect.htm.
Other ways to protect yourself during the flu season include wearing masks, physical distancing, hand washing, and staying home when you’re sick. These actions can prevent flu, COVID-19, and other respiratory infections.
To learn more about influenza and the influenza vaccine, please visit the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/index.html.
To learn more about influenza in Idaho, visit the Idaho influenza website: https://flu.idaho.gov.
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is dedicated to strengthening the health, safety, and independence of Idahoans. Learn more at healthandwelfare.idaho.gov.