June 6, 2023

Dawson County Journal

Dawson County, Nebraska

National Influenza Vaccination Week December 5-12

Lincoln, Neb. — It is not too late to receive the yearly flu vaccination. The season for flu is quite unpredictable; it can begin as early as fall and last up to spring. Flu activity is at its peak during winter. Therefore, public healthcare professionals, advocates, and communities unite to promote flu vaccination.

National Influenza Vaccination Week (N.I.V.W.) is observed between December 6 and 12 as a way to remind people to stay protected in the upcoming winter months. However, only about half of Americans get the annual vaccination. Many who choose not to, think that the flu is just a bad cold. But it’s more than that. The flu can cause serious health complications, such as bacterial infections or pneumonia, that may lead to hospitalization. If not treated at the right time, the flu can even lead to death. 

While most of flu activity peaks between December and February, significant activity can last as late as May. It takes about two weeks after receiving the vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against this virus infection. Therefore, it is best to get vaccinated before influenza viruses start to spread in the community. The flu shot offers protection against the flu for at least six months.

“As we celebrate the holiday with family and friends, it is important to protect each other by decreasing the possibility of spreading the flu,” said Dr. Matthew Donahue, State Epidemiologist “Influenza can be a life-threatening disease for some, as it can make anyone sick. The single best way to protect against the flu and its spread is to get vaccinated each year.”

Even if someone has already had the flu, there are still benefits from vaccination. There are many different flu viruses spread during the season, and most flu vaccines can protect against four different flu strains. Anyone who gets the flu can pass it to someone who is at high risk for severe illness, including children younger than six months as they are too young to get a flu vaccine. It is biologically impossible to get the flu from the vaccine as it does not contain a live virus. 

Flu viruses change constantly, so flu vaccines are updated each season for protection. The vaccine and natural immunity also decrease over time, which is why this is an annual vaccination.

A 2018 study showed that among adults hospitalized with flu, vaccinated patients were 59% less likely to be admitted to the ICU than those who had not been vaccinated. Among adults in the ICU with flu, vaccinated patients spent on average four fewer days in the hospital than those who were not vaccinated.

Getting vaccinated may also protect others, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like babies and young children, older people, and people with certain chronic health conditions. The flu vaccine can be lifesaving in children; a 2017 CDC study was the first of its kind to show that flu vaccination can significantly reduce a child’s risk of dying from flu.

Using data from early October 2021 to mid-June 2022, the CDC estimated that influenza virus infection resulted in 9 million symptomatic illnesses, 4 million medical visits, 100,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths. Older adults accounted for 83% of those deaths.

To find a site that offers flu vaccinations, go to https://www.vaccines.gov/find-vaccines/ and type in your zip code.


Source: Nebraska Regional News