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Flu season is coming and doctors want us to get the shot. But how effective is it, and how is this vaccine different than years past?
Dr. Lea Monday, an infectious disease specialist with the Detroit Medical Center answered those questions for us.
“Fifty thousand people died of the flu last year or have some type of complication related to getting the flu, like pneumonia,” she said.
Monday says now is the time to consider getting vaccinated to protect against the coming flu season.
“Last year, our flu season peaked a little earlier,” she said. “In South America this year in the Southern Hemisphere, it peaked a little earlier. so there is potential this year for it to peak earlier as well
There are misconceptions, fears and questions that go along with getting a vaccine.
One big question – how effective has the 2023 flu shot been thus far?
“The recent data that came out of South America showed it reduced hospitalizations by 52 percent,” she said. “So this is very encouraging that as we move into flu season with the same vaccine in the Northern Hemisphere, we hope to see the same efficacy in our patients as well.”
Secondly, when’s the ideal time to get the flu shot and who should get it?
“Ideally, we want everybody vaccinated by the end of October,” she said. “So by Halloween if you want to think of something simple, and that is because really, we want people to reach full immunity by the time we hit peak season, which in general in the US is between December and February.
“Immunocompromised patients with heart disease and lung disease or cancer. Pregnant women as well, who, although they’re healthy, are very prone to severe disease with respiratory viruses. And kids, especially kids who are underage who haven’t been vaccinated before.”
For the moms-to-be, Dr. Monday says, it’s important to remember unborn babies can only be protected by their carriers – at least until their around six months old. So protecting you protects them.
“Their immune systems aren’t the same, because they’re carrying a foreign body in their body, so they really don’t do well when they get sick.”
As for kids: “A child who’s never been vaccinated before, they might have to think about it earlier rather than later, because they have to get two shots in, before the immunity can really set effect. Kids who are already 9 years old or older. just need one vaccine.
Is the flu shot itself a live virus?
“The flu vaccine contains no live virus,” Monday said.
Arguably one of the biggest questions out there is, are the Covid booster and flu shot compatible?”
“The flu shot and the Covid shot can be administered together at the same time in the same visit,” Monday said. “You actually can get them in the same arm if you want one inch apart, or what a lot of people prefer is one and each arm. Either way is fine.”
As for cost, it is free.
“The flu vaccine should be covered by everybody’s insurance payer or by the federal government,” she said. “You can sign up for a vaccine and a local pharmacy and get them for free.”