Flu season is here, get your shot now

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This week marks the start of the flu season, meaning the best time to get that flu shot is now, says Yavapai County Health Services Epidemiologist Stephen Everett.

“It’s better to get it now and you’ll have the antibodies in your system,” Everett said. “So if you get it later on in the season, at least you’ll be able to fight most of it off.”

After getting a flu shot, it takes about two weeks for the antibodies to start reproducing, said Yavapai County Public Information Officer David McAtee.

A lot of people will get the flu shot and a couple days later they’ll get the flu and think it’s because they got the shot, McAtee said.

However, it happened because they didn’t get the shot early enough, he said.

Last year’s flu shot was about 30 to 40 percent effective and only about 25 percent effective against the H3N2 strain, Public Health Coordinator Terri Farneti said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are many different influenza viruses and they are constantly changing.

The composition of flu vaccines is reviewed annually and updated to match circulating viruses and vaccines protect against three or four of them.

For 2018 and 2019, trivalent vaccines are set to contain H1N1, H3N2 and Victoria lineage, while quadrivalent vaccines also contain Yamagata lineage.

While officials won’t know the calculations of effectiveness of the vaccines for this season until around January, Everett said he hasn’t heard anything about late rises in the southern hemisphere.

The summer months in the United States are the winter months in the southern hemisphere and predictions are made based on what occurs in that portion of the world, he said.

Australia’s mild flu season might indicate a better match for vaccines this year, Farneti said.

There have been some concerns in the public regarding vaccines and with the flu shot, the fear is Thimerosal which is mercury-based, Everett said.

However, that’s only used in the 10-dose vials.

There are none in the single-dose syringes used by YCCHS, McAtee added.

“You’re not even at risk of getting that preservative which is so small to begin with,” he said. “It’s less than a tuna fish sandwich.”

Everyone 6 months or older should get vaccinated for the flu with rare exceptions, according to the CDC.

If you have severe allergic reactions to latex or eggs, then it’s better not to get it, but in all other cases people should get it, Everett said.

Warning signs of a severe flu, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention:

In children:

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Not waking up or interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but return with fever and worse cough
  • Fever with a rash

In adults:

  • Difficulty breaking or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but return with fever and worse cough

Further, medical help should be sought right away for any infant with the following signs:

  • Being unable to eat
  • Has trouble breathing
  • Has no tears when crying
  • Significantly fewer wet diapers than normal

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