Get ready, flu season is coming. Here's why you should definitely get a flu shot — and soon.September 11, 2018
By Spencer Kent | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
If you got the flu last season, you know how bad it was.
If you didn’t, you were lucky, as we got hit with a particularly wretched strain of influenza.
Things got pretty chaotic in what ended up being one of the worst flu seasons on record for New Jersey and the country.
Thousands and thousands fell ill and three children died. Emergency rooms became overrun by a surge of patients which put many facilities at full capacity. And, some pharmacies ran out of certain flu vaccines.
And while no one knows just how bad this year’s nasty virus will be, these are some of the reasons experts say not getting a flu shot is a big gamble.
If only the flu vaccine could be as potently effective as Brian Fantana’s “Sex Panther” cologne. Nonetheless, it still has a pretty decent track record.
In reality, the flu shot works more like 40- to 60-percent of the time (overall), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Though its effectiveness can vary season to season.
Why was last year’s vaccine a dud?
It’s true, some years the flu shot can end up a major flop.
Which was partly the case last season. Though overall the vaccine was about 36 percent effective, when it came to the dominan strain of the flu, the H3N2 virus, it flopped, proving only 25 percent effective.
Some years it’s been even lower. But, does that mean you shouldn’t get one? No.
According to health experts, even if the vaccine is a flop one season, you’ll still get benefits from it.
“We did see people who got the flu … had much milder symptoms than not getting the flu shot at all,” said Dr. Chris Freer, chair of emergency medicine for Saint Barnabas Medical Center and system director of RWJBarnabas Health Emergency Services.
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Patti Sapone | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Now. Or at least pretty soon, health experts say. It takes about two weeks for the vaccine to start working in your body. While the CDC recommends that people get vaccinated by the end of October, and even though the flu season usually doesn’t start ramping up until November and December, experts say there are a bunch of reasons you should get it over and done with.
Here are three reasons to get it done sooner than later:
- You’re busy and you’ll forget.
- Pharmacies might run out of certain flu vaccines that cover the three or four different strains during a given season (which is what happened last year).
- The flu is unpredictable and can start earlier some years.
“If vaccines are available … I would not delay,” Dr. David Cennimo, an assistant professor of medicine-pediatrics infectious disease at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School said in an email. “Patients are too likely to miss getting the vaccine because they were waiting.”