Dr. Jesse Goodman, chief scientist at the FDA, emphasizes the importance of getting that flu shot and even now it isn’t too late.
He noted that this season’s flu presented several challenges, and access to vaccines is as important as ever.
The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spend the entire year researching how flu viruses change and what can be done to prepare the public for them. Despite these exhaustive preparations, this year’s flu strain struck early and hard, resulting in initial shortages in vaccine supplies. This is a case where medical supplies for the elderly are particularly crucial.
Dr. Goodman noted that this has been a flu season that started relatively earlier in the year than average, and came on pretty intensely. The type of flu virus involved, the H3N2 virus, can sometimes be relatively widespread, and particularly put the elderly at high risk for complications of flu.
This year’s flu vaccine has been around 62 percent effective in reducing medically attended illnesses. So, although it’s not 100 percent effective, most of those who have been vaccinated have been prevented from getting significant influenza infection, which can result in the complications that kill people.
He noted that there is still vaccine available, and people who haven’t been vaccinated and who want to should still try to get it. Next year make sure you give yourself a reminder early that you should get your flu shot. You may be saving your life.