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Get Vaccinated to Fight the Flu

The seasonal flu vaccination campaigns for Boulder Community Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are currently underway, and now is the perfect time for you to get your flu shot.

Although the influenza season in Australia has been severe, experts are not making predictions about how severe this flu season will be in the United States.

Here are three ways you and your family can avoid influenza this season:

1. Everyone should get a flu shot (excluding children less than six-months-old, someone with a life-threatening reaction to one of the ingredients of the vaccine or an individual with a history of Guillain–Barré syndrome)

It’s not too early or too late. It takes your body about two weeks to develop a response to the vaccine, so earlier vaccination is key.

"All regular dose flu vaccines will be quadrivalent, which means they are designed to protect against four different flu viruses - two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses,” said Dr. Amie Meditz, infectious diseases and internal medicine physician, of Beacon Center for Infectious Diseases. “Previously, the main regular dose vaccine available protected against three viruses.”

Remember that when you get a flu vaccine, you are also protecting those around you who may be harmed by the flu. Dr. Meditz stresses that adults over 65-years-old, anyone with a chronic medical condition, pregnant women, and health care workers are at “particular risk for more severe disease and complications relating to influenza.”

If you don’t get your shot in the fall, you are still encouraged to get the shot throughout the entire influenza season, which can last into March or April.

2. Stop the spread of germs. You can do this by washing your hands with soap and water, avoiding close contact with sick people, and covering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze.

3. If you do come down with the flu, your primary care provider will help you decide if you would benefit from a flu anti-viral drug. If you are prescribed an anti-viral drug, make sure to take it as directed by your doctor.

Getting Your Flu Shot at BCH

To schedule a convenient time to receive a flu shot, contact your BCH primary care clinic or call 303-415-4015 to schedule an appointment.

The nasal spray flu vaccine is available again this year, but there are no published studies of effectiveness, according to Dr. Meditz.

“Per the CDC website, this vaccine can be used in individuals who do not have a compromised immune system, including children over two-years-old and non-pregnant adults up to 49-years-old,” she said.

Effectiveness of This Year’s Flu Vaccine

Each year, there are a variety of reasons why the vaccine is not a perfect match. According to Dr. Meditz, the influenza viruses are selected months before the season; the way the vaccine is produced can affect how well the viruses match; and changes can occur in the circulating viruses during the season.

While it’s too early for any reports or predictions about whether the 2019-20 influenza quadrivalent vaccine will be a match for the circulating influenza viruses this year in the United States, Dr. Meditz says this should not discourage you from getting the flu vaccine.

“You could be exposed to a strain that does not match up with the vaccine this season,” she said. “However, studies have shown that people who are vaccinated have fewer complications than those who are not.”