Health Update: Prevent and Manage the Flu
Flu season has gotten off to a fast start, with Mississippi among the most affected states in the nation as of December. Flu season begins in the fall months and often continues into late spring, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are reporting that it's spreading farther and faster than last year.
Influenza is a serious illness, which can lead to hospitalization and even death in more serious cases. While this year’s vaccine is reportedly only 10 percent effective, health experts say some protection is better than none and can also reduce the severity of your symptoms if you do get the virus. And if you haven't gotten a flu shot, don't worry - the CDC says getting vaccinated later can still be beneficial and vaccination should continue to be offered throughout the flu season, even into January or later.
Getting vaccinated before the flu season is in full force is best since it gives the body a chance to build up immunity to (protection from) the virus since it takes about two weeks for it to be effective. Flu season generally runs from October to May, with most cases happening from late December to early March.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends everyone age 6 months and older receive an annual flu vaccine. There is only a small percentage of people who are advised not to receive the flu vaccine, including those younger than six months of age or who have certain allergies. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi members can receive the flu vaccine at no out-of-pocket cost from a Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Network Provider or Network Pharmacy.
While it is still possible to get the flu even if you have been vaccinated, the vaccine can help prevent or reduce complications from the flu, which is usually the cause of hospitalization and death in the most severe cases.
Other benefits of the flu vaccine include:
- Protect those around you who may not be able to get the flu shot (people with illnesses or babies younger than 6 months of age).
- Reduce the severity of your symptoms if you do get the flu.
- Protect a woman during and after pregnancy and also protect the baby for months after it is born.
- Reduce the risk of hospitalization from the flu.
- Prevent complications for those with chronic illnesses like heart disease and diabetes.
Learn more about how the seasonal flu vaccine can protect you by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.