The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is encouraging Americans to get their flu shots at the earliest this flu season. The agency is concerned that many people might skip vaccination this time, just like what happened during the 2015-2016 flu season.
There is a reported 1.5 percent decline in flu vaccination coverage in the country last flu season, where only 46 percent of the population received the shots. About 3.5 percent of the decline in vaccination was seen among adults aged between 50 and 64 years while 3.3 percent decrease was reported among people aged 65 and above.
"Flu is serious. Flu is unpredictable. Flu often gets not enough respect," said CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden warned at a morning news conference. "If we could increase vaccination coverage in this country by just 5 percent, that would prevent about 800,000 illnesses and nearly 10,000 hospitalizations."
Frieden, who urged people to get the influenza vaccination by the end of October, noted that a delayed vaccination is as bad as an ignored or forgotten vaccination.
Meanwhile, Dr. William Schaffner, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, who said that decline in vaccination coverage in older people is quite concerning, added that nearly three-fourths of 1 million people hospitalized of flu during the 2015-2016 season were adults aged 65 and older.
Schaffner added that the influenza vaccine helps in reducing the chances of acquiring infection and at the same time it also helps in minimizing the severity and complications related to flu-infection in case of hospitalization.
As far as 2016-17 flu season is concerned, people will have only injectable flu shots and no nasal sprays. The sprays are temporarily discontinued because it was found earlier this year that they are ineffective in offering protection against infection. The vaccines are also updated to give protection against currently circulating flu strains.
The CDC has noted that new vaccines will be available in the market this season, of which some offer protection against four flu virus strains and some protect against three flu virus strains. Older people will have access to a high-dose shot for better protection. On the other hand, a shot made with adjuvant is also available for the elderly.
Flu shots developed with virus grown in cell culture and one made with the help of vaccine production technology are also available in the market for 2016-17 flu season.
As mentioned earlier, live attenuated influenza vaccine or nasal sprays, used especially in children are not available this time, however, parents are expected to get their children the regular flu jabs. It is also reported that people with egg allergies also have a new set of recommendations this time.
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