Options to Keep Healthy During This Year's Flu Season

Oct 8, 2018

Fall is a beautiful time of year. But it is – unfortunately – also the start of cold and flu season. 

In fact, last year’s flu season was the worst in at least fifteen years, according to the Centers for Disease Control. So, should we be ready for more of the same? And what are the options for preparing?

“We're of course hoping that this flu season is not as bad as last flu season. And every year that's kind of the million-dollar question. How bad will the flu season be this year,” Shital Patel, an Assistant Professor of Medicine-Infectious Disease at Baylor College of Medicine said.  

While scientists are trying to figure out how bad this season may be, and the strain that might be the most prevalent, Patel said that there are some improvements in prevention. 

Flu shots are usually based on the strain that was circulating in the southern hemisphere six months ago. The World Health Organization and the FDA in the United States have already selected the strains for the vaccine, and they’ve been tweaked to be more effective against the H1N1 strain, the main strain that caused the 2009 pandemic, and that was an issue in 2017 as well.

Patel emphasized the importance of the flu vaccine, stating that while it’s not 100% effective, the biggest advantage is that it helps prevent serious complications from influenza, like hospitalizations and deaths.

There are multiple options for populations that may be more susceptible to the virus. As people age, the standard dose may not be as effective, so there is a high-dose version for those who are 65 and older and an adjuvant one. But like anything else, there are a variety of issues to consider, so Patel recommends that everyone talk to their doctor to find out what vaccine it right for them. 

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Web content created by Liz Lerner.