(RxWiki News) Flu season is almost here. But you can take steps to protect yourself from catching the flu.
Influenza outbreaks can occur as early as October and last all the way until February or even later. The flu is a viral infection that attacks your respiratory system. For many people, the flu resolves on its own — but sometimes, influenza and its complications can be deadly. That’s why it’s important to know what you can do to keep yourself and your family flu-free this fall.
What to Expect This Flu Season
Because flu viruses are constantly changing, the vaccine has to be updated each year to match the flu viruses that are circulating. For 2019-20, the vaccine will protect against three or four viruses (depending on the vaccine).
The vaccines that will protect against three viruses will include an H1N1, H3N2 and a B virus. The exact list is below:
- A/Brisbane/02/2018 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus (updated)
- A/Kansas/14/2017 (H3N2)-like virus (updated)
- B/Colorado/06/2017-like (Victoria lineage) virus
This season’s vaccine that protects against four viruses will contain the three viruses above plus an additional B virus component (B/Phuket/3073/2013-like (Yamagata lineage) virus).
Your pharmacist can help determine which flu vaccine is the best option for you.
The flu vaccine is available in two forms: a nasal spray and a vaccine that is injected into the muscle. Which form is best for you will depend on several factors, such as age and other medical conditions. Speak with your doctor to determine the best flu vaccine formulation for you and your loved ones. (Note that manufacturing issues can lead to limitations with the nasal spray vaccine.)
Who Should Get the Flu Shot?
Health experts recommend that every individual over the age of 6 months old get a flu shot every year. Children younger than 2 and older individuals 65 and up are especially vulnerable to the flu and related complications. Pregnant women, those with chronic illnesses like diabetes and those with lung diseases like asthma are at risk for flu-related complications.
For these groups, receiving the flu shot is extremely important.
When Is the Best Time to Get a Flu Shot?
The flu shot usually becomes available in September and October. Health experts recommend getting the flu shot by the end of October. It takes about two weeks to kick in, so you want to make sure to get the vaccine before flu season arrives.
Your local community pharmacy is a great resource for your flu season needs. Ask your local pharmacist about the flu shot today.
Written by Anyssa Garza, PharmD, BCMAS