Why You Should Get Your Flu Shot Now

If you’ve watched the news recently, you may have heard about the string of nationwide flu-related deaths. 40 states are currently reporting “widespread” flu activity as of January 11, meaning that the incidence of flu cases is on the rise. If you have not already gotten your flu shot, it’s imperative now more than ever.

Though the Center for Disease Control (CDC) does not monitor the exact number of flu-related deaths in adults, they have declared the flu season at an “epidemic” status because 7.5% of US deaths in the second week of January were caused by flu and pneumonia-related illnesses.

Still not convinced that you need to get a flu shot now? Here are some common questions you may have about this year’s flu — and answers that show why you should arm yourself with a flu shot today!

Why You Should Get Your Flu Shot Now

Who does the 2013-2014 flu affect?

If you’re young and healthy, you might buy into some of the myths surrounding the flu shot, including the idea that you don’t need it because of your age and the fact that you “don’t get sick.” While it’s true that some strains of the flu (including last year’s(H3N2 strain) are more damaging to the elderly, this year’s H1N1 strain is actually threatening to young children and adults aged 18-64. That means your age doesn’t preclude you from getting the flu and needing a flu shot. If H1N1 sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the ARCpoint Labs | Why You Should Get Your Flu Shot Now“swine flu” strain responsible for more than 200,000 deaths worldwide in 2009. Medical professionals and the CDC recommend that everyone aged 6 months or above should get a flu shot to best protect themselves and others against this season’s potentially deadly strain — especially children, pregnant women, and caretakers, including medical professionals, teachers and childcare workers, nursing home workers, and parents.

Does the 2013-2014 flu shot protect against this year’s strain of the flu?

Each year, the seasonal flu shot is designed to protect against strains of influenza that several experts expect to be most common in the upcoming flu season. Since three common flu viruses circulate today — influenza A strain H1N1, influenza A strain H3N2, and influenza B strains — these three types of viruses are used to create the seasonal flu shot.

This year’s flu shot is comprised of three viruses: an influenza A/California/2009-like H1N1 virus, an influenza A H3N2 virus (A/Texas/50/2012-like), and an influenza B virus (B/Massachusetts/2/2012-like or B/Yamagata lineage). According to the latest CDC data, the 2013-2014 flu season involves up to 736 viruses. These varieties have been antigenically characterized, meaning we understand their composition and can gauge how effective the flu shot will be against them. Among the flu types include:

  • 647 of the 648 H1N1 varieties in this year’s flu season are A/California/2009-like strains, meaning the 2013-2014 flu shot is 99.8% effective against the H1N1 flu strains.
  • All 72 of the influenza A viruses tested are the same H3N2 strains used in the 2013-2014 flu shot (the A/Texas/50/2012-like strain), making the flu shot 100% effective against the H3N2 flu strains.
  • 9 of the 16 influenza B viruses are a part of the B/Yamagata/16/88-lineage, while the last 7 belong to the B/Victoria/02/87 lineage. The Yamagata strain is included in this year’s triavalent and quadrivalent flu shot, while the Victoria lineage is covered by the Brisbane strain of the quadrivalent flu shot.

Basically, this means that this year’s flu shot is very effective at fighting this season’s strains of the flu.

Is it too late to get a flu shot?

No, it’s not! The flu season can be so unpredictable, so we don’t know whether the flu season has peaked or if it will continue to get worse. Flu seasons typically reach their height between January and March, meaning we still have 2 1/2 months for the flu virus to spread. As long as a flu shot is available, you should get vaccinated.

Can I get a flu shot if I’ve already been sick?

Even if you have already been infected with a flu-like sickness this year, a flu shot can still be effective. Because other respiratory viruses can cause flu-like symptoms, you can’t be sure that your illness was actually caused by a flu virus. Also, even if you were sick with one strain of the flu, you could still be exposed to another common strain that the flu shot can protect you against.

Get Your Flu Shot Today!

Ready to protect yourself against this year’s strains of the flu? Our walk-in facilities make it easy to get vaccinated. Come and get your flu shot today at your local ARCpoint Labs!

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