This year’s influenza vaccine expected to be a good match
It’s not yet possible to predict the severity of this year’s flu season, but Morris Hospital Infectious Disease Physician Dr. John Bolden says it’s important to prepare for it now.
And the best way to prevent getting the flu, he said, is to get the vaccine.
“We are expecting influenza to pick up in November,” Bolden says, “and the peak is expected to last through February.”
The number of cases may remain high through the end of March, if it follows the same pattern as last year.
The good news is that this year’s vaccine is expected to be a good match to the strains of the flu that are on their way. Most of the vaccines this year will be quadrivalent, as well, meaning they will protect against four different strains of the virus.
“The quadrivalent flu vaccine has about 20 percent more antigenic potency than the trivalent one,” Dr. Bolden says. “It contains antigens to H1N1, H3N1 and two of the B types. These vaccines are very safe. They are safe for adults, and they are safe for children. I can’t emphasize enough the benefits of these shots.”
And the vaccine doesn’t just benefit the person who receives it. Preventing yourself from getting the flu also benefits your family and friends, especially those who might not be able to receive it themselves, like infants younger than six months old.
More than 80,000 people died from the flu last year in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, called last year’s influenza outbreak “a high severity season” across all age groups. The 2017-18 flu season lasted about 19 weeks, making it one of the longest seasons in years.
Those children and adults who contracted the infection experienced its many and sometimes severe symptoms, including fever, chills, cough, sore throat, stuffy nose, muscle and body aches, headaches, fatigue and more. Dr. Bolden said a yearly flu shot is recommended for those six months of age and older, including pregnant women.
Those ages 2 through 49, who are not pregnant, may choose to take the nasal spray flu vaccine. Dr. Bolden said some people with underlying medical conditions are not advised to take the nasal spray vaccine and should check with their physician first.
Dr. Bolden recommends that in addition to getting the vaccine, those who want to avoid the flu this season should wash their hands after being in public, get proper rest and nutrition, drink the appropriate amount of water each day and not touch their hands to their face.
Serving patients at 26 locations, Morris Hospital & Healthcare Centers includes the 89-bed Morris Hospital, as well as physician offices in Braidwood, Channahon, Coal City, Dwight, Gardner, Marseilles, Mazon, Minooka, Morris, Newark, Ottawa and Yorkville. Through the services of over 1,700 healthcare professionals, physicians and volunteers, Morris Hospital provides lifesaving cardiac intervention with angioplasty and stents, a radiation therapy center for cancer patients, state-of-the-art intensive care unit, sleep center, and immediate care services at three locations. Morris Hospital is a Level II trauma center and a Level II perinatal care provider with an intermediate care nursery.