BETHESDA, Md. - Cooler temperatures have us thinking about all things fall, but it is also a reminder that flu season is upon us.
Last year, 80,000 people died from the flu, which is the highest total ever recorded since seasonal flu-related deaths have been tracked.
Doctors say the flu is a serious disease that should not be taken lightly. You should get a flu shot that is not only for your own health, but for the health of others.
About 900,000 people had to be hospitalized last flu season and 183 children died from the flu. An overwhelming majority of them had not been vaccinated.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says everyone over the age of six months should get their flu shot this year, especially people who are most susceptible – such as young children, women who are pregnant, the elderly, people with underlying chronic diseases, including heart or lung disease, and people on medication that suppress their immune system.
Fauci says the flu virus can change every year, so it is important to keep up.
“We need to make a prediction several months ahead of time as to what we have been experiencing in this winter and right now given the flu viruses that are starting to circulate, because we are early in the season, the flu viruses that are starting to circulate right now appear to be well matched to the vaccine that we have chosen to give this year,” he said. “That is a good sign. It could change a bit, but right now, it looks like they are well matched.”
He also added, “We are working on the possibility on what we call a universal influenza vaccine, which would be a vaccine to induce a response against all forms of the flu, even that which changes from year to year.”
Until that universal vaccine comes out, Fauci says you need to get a flu shot every year. He assured us that you cannot get the flu from the flu shot. So if you have never gotten one before, now is a good time to start.