Flu season is once again upon us! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this year is expected to be a particularly bad flu season and experts are recommending the flu vaccine to prevent a serious outbreak.
“In Miami, the flu season tends to come a little later as the warm weather sticks around longer, but it will eventually make its way to Miami, especially over the holidays when people start traveling,” said Anthoni Llau, research scientist at Stempel College’s Global Health Consortium and former epidemiologist with the Miami-Dade County Health Department.
According to Llau, here are a few things you should know this flu season:
- Get the flu vaccine, and get it now! “Getting the vaccine doesn’t just protect you; it protects those around you who may not have been able to get the vaccine. Babies and the elderly are more at risk for developing complications, and stopping the spread of the flu virus helps protect them. The earlier you get it, the better because it takes two weeks to even become effective.”
- The vaccine changes annually to protect you. “This year the vaccine is quadrivalent, meaning that protects against four strains of the flu virus that are expected to be the most prevalent this year. Even if you catch the flu, studies have shown that the symptoms will not be as bad or last as long if you have been vaccinated.”
- The nasal vaccine is back, so don’t claim you’re afraid of shots. “The nasal vaccine was phased out because it was showing to be less effective, but it is back. The CDC recommends either the spray or flu shot during the 2019-2020 season.”
- The flu is not the same as a cold. “There are four FDA-approved antiviral medications which can be used to treat the flu, but they are only effective if started within the first 48-hours of the onset of symptomatic. The flu should not be confused with a standard cold. The flu hits you fast and comes with coughing, fever, and fatigue. If you feel like that, go to the doctor. Usually, if you have the flu, you are not congested.”
“I remember when the H1N1 pandemic flu virus hit in 2009, we could see how fast it was moving and spreading. That one came early, before the typical flu season even hit. Once people began getting vaccinated, the spread slowed down,” Llau recalled. “That said, we don’t want another year where the flu becomes a public health crisis – get vaccinated!”
Anthoni Llau, research scientist