October marks the beginning of the seasonal flu in the United States. Approximately 5-20 percent of U.S. residents get the flu each year. The best protection is the flu shot, and there are several changes with the flu shot for this season.
Here are five things about the 2015-2016 flu season that you must know:
1. The flu was incredibly dangerous last year.
In case you forgot, the previous flu season had hospitalization and mortality rates that exceeded epidemic thresholds. Flu casualties were especially high for seniors and children, who are always the most vulnerable to catching it. Last year's flu vaccine was only 18 percent effective, which contributed to the increase in flu cases.
2. This year's flu vaccine is different.
According to the Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu vaccine for the 2015-2016 season will include hemagglutinin (HA) derived from an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)-like virus, an A/Switzerland/9715293/2013 (H3N2)-like virus, and a B/Phuket/3073/2013-like (Yamagata lineage) virus. These reflect changes from last year's vaccine.
3. Everyone should receive the flu vaccine.
The CDC recommends that anyone above the age of 6 months who does not have contraindications should get the flu vaccine. For children, depending on their age and health, they could choose between the flu shot and the nasal spray.
4. Get the flu vaccine as soon as possible.
5. Flu cases were reported in September.
The New Mexico Department of Health just reported on three cases of influenza in September. Governor Steve Beshear and First Lady Jane Beshea of Kentucky recently received their flu shots to encourage everyone to get their vaccines as well.
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