December 3, 2023

By Katia Hetter | CNN

Whereas the US Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention recommends that everybody 6 months and older ought to obtain the annual flu vaccine, most individuals haven’t – a minimum of not but. Solely 22.7% of adults and 20.8% of youngsters have gotten the flu shot this fall, based on CDC knowledge from October 14.

Why is it essential for everybody eligible to obtain the flu shot? How efficient is it? Do individuals who have had the flu earlier than nonetheless want a shot? Why is it obligatory yearly? When is the most effective time to get it? And what else ought to folks do to remain wholesome because the climate will get colder?

To assist us with these questions, I spoke with our CNN Wellness medical professional, Dr. Leana Wen. Dr. Wen is an emergency doctor and professor of well being coverage and administration on the George Washington College Milken Institute Faculty of Public Well being. She beforehand served as Baltimore’s well being commissioner.

CNN: Is it too late to get the flu shot?

Dr. Leana Wen: Under no circumstances. Flu season has not peaked but. Pharmacies and plenty of medical doctors’ places of work will supply the flu shot, so name forward and schedule your shot. Many pharmacies don’t require appointments, however some would possibly. When you have a health care provider’s appointment developing, you could possibly in all probability get your shot then, though it is best to verify that they’ve the flu shot obtainable. Your place of business or native well being division would possibly supply photographs, too. It’s tremendous to obtain the flu vaccine from any of those place — simply don’t delay getting it.

CNN: Is there any benefit to ready till later, when flu season does peak?

Wen: You shouldn’t wait. It’s greatest to obtain the vaccine earlier than the height of flu season, which often happens between December and March. The flu is already circulating, although, and you could possibly get contaminated forward of peak season. Should you obtain the vaccine now, it’ll final by way of this 12 months’s flu season.

CNN: Why is it essential for everybody who’s eligible to obtain the flu shot?

Wen: The flu could be harmful, and the flu vaccine has two essential constructive results. The primary is to cut back the prospect of extreme sickness. In keeping with research cited by the CDC, vaccinated sufferers had a 26% decrease threat of intensive care unit admission and a 31% decrease threat of dying from the flu in comparison with unvaccinated people. Within the 2019-2020 12 months, the flu vaccine prevented an estimated 105,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations.

The second purpose to get the flu vaccine is to cut back an infection. Annually, the precise effectiveness relies on how properly the vaccine developed matches the strains in circulation, but it surely’s typically 40% to 60%.

That’s important on each a private and particular person degree. Being sick with the flu, even when it doesn’t lead to hospitalization, could be depressing. Folks can have fever, fatigue, achiness and cough for every week or longer. Youngsters can miss college and adults miss work and different tasks.

I get the flu vaccine yearly, and I make it possible for my husband and two kids do too, as a result of we wish to scale back the opportunity of sickness attributable to flu. As well as, being vaccinated helps to cut back the danger of infecting others round us, which is essential to me as a healthcare supplier who takes care of susceptible sufferers.

CNN: Do individuals who have had the flu earlier than nonetheless want a shot?

Wen: Should you had flu in years previous, then sure, you do nonetheless must obtain the flu vaccine this 12 months. The immunity you developed earlier than wanes.

Additionally, many individuals would possibly say that they’ve had the “flu” after they actually had a chilly or one other viral an infection. I hear from my sufferers that they don’t want the flu vaccine this 12 months as a result of they’ve already had “the flu” however they by no means really examined constructive for influenza. Having one other virus doesn’t defend you in opposition to influenza, and you continue to must get the flu shot.

CNN: Why is a flu shot obligatory yearly?