Updated flu shots now available; last season’s vaccine reduced serious illness by one-third

This article appeared in Cleveland.Com. Read more here.

Flu shots for the 2022-2023 season are available now.

The current flu vaccine has been updated to be a better match against the viruses that are expected to circulate, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The best time to get the flu shot is between early fall and the end of October, according to the CDC. Once you get the vaccine, your body needs roughly two weeks to develop enough antibodies to protect against the flu. Therefore, getting the vaccine before flu season is in full swing is recommended.

Flu vaccines worked better this past season than initially reported. Vaccinated people last season reduced their risk of serious flu illness by about one-third, the CDC said.

“This is more evidence that the flu vaccine can still offer protection, even when vaccine viruses are different from circulating viruses,” the agency said.

Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season, the CDC recommends. The flu shot is especially important for people at higher risk of serious complications from influenza.

Rite Aid and CVS Pharmacy have opened online scheduling for flu shots, as well as accepting walk-in customers, the pharmacy chains said in press releases.

Flu shots also will be available at other pharmacies, hospital systems, county health departments and doctor offices.

While the flu vaccine doesn’t totally protect against the illness, getting a seasonal influenza vaccine every year is the best protection against severe influenza.

2021-22 flu season was mild, peaked twice

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, flu seasons have been mild. That’s because measures taken to slow the spread of COVID-19, such as hand washing and mask wearing, also work against flu, health experts have said.

The 2021-22 influenza season was mild, but with more flu activity than the prior season. Influenza A was dominant throughout the 2021-22 season, the CDC said.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, influenza cases increased in the fall and peaked in February.

But during the 2021–2022 season, flu activity began increasing in November and remained elevated until mid-June, with two different waves of high spread.

The first wave peaked in late December, and the second wave peaked at different times across the country. In the Midwest, influenza peaked in April — the latest peak on record, the CDC said.

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