The flu is an inevitable part of fall and winter, but aspects of the flu change each year, including the vaccine and the when and where to get the flu shot.
Here is a quick breakdown of everything to know this flu season.
When is flu season, and when should I get my shot?
Flu activity often begins to increase in October and November. Most of the time flu activity peaks between December and February, and it can last as late as May.
Because the timing of the onset, peak and end of flu seasons vary from year to year and cannot be predicted, it is difficult to say when is the best time to be vaccinated for any one season. In trying to balance the need to get many people vaccinated before flu activity begins with concerns about potential waning of vaccine-induced immunity during the flu season, CDC and ACIP recommend that vaccination be offered by the end of October, particularly for children.
Children 6 months through 8 years of age who need two doses should receive their first dose as soon as possible after the vaccine becomes available to allow the second dose (which must be administered at least four weeks later) to be received by the end of October.
For people who need only one dose for the season, vaccinating early – for example, in July or August – may lead to reduced protection against flu later in the season, particularly among older adults.
While vaccination should optimally occur before the onset of flu activity in the community, providers should continue to offer and encourage vaccination as long as flu viruses are circulating and unexpired vaccine is available. To avoid missed opportunities for vaccination, vaccination can be offered during routine health care visits and hospitalizations.
Where can I get my flu shot?
The Little River County Health Unit is located at 150 Keller St., Ashdown, Arkansas, 71822. On Friday, September 27, 2019, the Little River County Health Unit of the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) started offering flu vaccinations. The clinic is open Monday, Wednesday-Friday 8 a.m – 4:30 p.m.
The clinic is open most Tuesdays from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. with nurses available starting at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesdays.
People should bring their insurance cards with them to the flu vaccine clinic. If no insurance is available, there is a $30 charge. No appointment is needed for the flu vaccine, according to Gayle Vermeer, Little River County Health Unit administrator.
What flu vaccines are recommended this season?
For the 2019-20 flu season, providers may choose to administer any licensed, age-appropriate flu vaccine (IIV, RIV4 or LAIV4).
- Standard dose flu shots. Like all inactivated influenza vaccines, these are given into the muscle. They are usually given with a needle, but one (Afluria Quadrivalent) can be given to some people (those 18 to 64 years old) with a jet injector.
- High-dose shots for people 65 years and older.
- Shots made with adjuvant for people 65 years and older.
- Shots made with virus grown in cell culture. No eggs are involved in the production of this vaccine.
- Shots made using a vaccine production technology (recombinant vaccine) that does not require the use of flu virus.
- Live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) – a vaccine made with attenuated live virus that is given by nasal spray vaccine.
What should I do to protect myself from the flu this season?
CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against this potentially serious disease. In addition to getting a seasonal flu vaccine, you can take everyday preventive actions like staying away from sick people and washing your hands to reduce the spread of germs.
If you are sick with flu, stay home from work or school to prevent spreading the flu to others. In addition, there are prescription medications called antiviral drugs that can be used to treat flu illness.
What should I do to protect my loved ones from the flu this season?
Encourage your loved ones to get vaccinated. Vaccination is especially important for people at high risk of developing flu complications, and their close contacts. Also, if you have a loved one who is at high risk of developing flu complications and they get flu symptoms, encourage them to seek medical attention for possible treatment with flu antiviral drugs.
These drugs work best if given within 48 hours of when symptoms start. CDC recommends that people who are at high risk of developing serious flu complications and who get flu symptoms during flu season be treated with flu antiviral drugs as quickly as possible without waiting for confirmatory testing.
People who are not at high risk of developing serious flu complications may also be treated with flu antiviral drugs, especially if treatment can begin within 48 hours.
ACIP and CDC voted to resume the recommendation for the use of nasal spray vaccines based on evidence suggesting that the new H1N1 component will result in improved effectiveness of the vaccine against these viruses. There is no expressed preference for any flu shot or the nasal spray vaccine.
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