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‘Fasten Your Seat Belt’ for Potentially Nasty Flu Season

Experts urge ‘everyone’ to get vaccinated by Halloween as potentially nasty influenza weather looms

Some events should never be green lit for a sequel, namely, the 2017-18 U.S. cold and flu season.

One of the worst seasons in recent memory produced epidemic levels of influenza or pneumonia for 16 consecutive weeks, hospitalized more than 700,000 people and claimed the lives of 180 children.

Unfortunately, health experts are predicting a potentially nasty followup this year and urging Americans to get ahead of the threat by getting vaccinated.

You wouldn’t walk outside into a blizzard without a coat, would you?

“Everyone over six months of age should get their flu vaccine before Halloween,” Atlanta pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Stu told CNN. “Don’t go trick-or-treating unless you’ve had your flu shot.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention’s daunting warning is clear: The forthcoming 2018-19 influenza season is nothing to sneeze at.

“Influenza is a potentially serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death,” the CDC plainly states on its website. And as the CDC notes, “the influenza season in the United States is fast approaching.”

Though last year’s weak flu shot was, as U.S. Pharmacists puts it, “notoriously infective” with just a 36 percent efficiency rate, the CDC stresses it remains our best defense against influenza. This year’s strengthened vaccine is taking direct aim at containing last season’s Public Enemy No. 1: The H3N2 strain of influenza.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends all eligible children receive a flu shot.

This year’s season has just started, but elevated influenza activity has already been reported in several states, including Massachusetts.

“Fasten your seat belt,” physician assistant Louise Cardellina of the American Family Care Urgent Care Center said of the forthcoming season.

The U.S. Influenza season usually hits peak frenzy from December to February, but health officials are urging people to prepare early, and take the necessary precautions and daily hygiene practices to keep themselves, their families, coworkers and neighbors safe. Now is the ideal time to get vaccinated, stock up on hand sanitizer and office disinfectant wipes, and begin rigorous regular handwashing practices.

“It is important to break the (flu) chain in terms of spreading it,” Cardellina said.

Remember, when fighting an illness that CDC statistics show 1 in 5 Americans contracts each year trying to fight off influenza without a flu shot is trying to win a game of poker playing blindfolded. Even a weak vaccine offers better protection than going the season unvaccinated. FluMist is also available this season.

“(Last year) we did see people who got the flu with the vaccine had much milder symptoms than not getting the flu shot at all,” Dr. Chris Freer, chair of emergency medicine for Saint Barnabas Medical Center and director of RWJBarnabas Health Emergency Services, told NJ.com.

Flu season is an unpredictable beast. Improve your chances of weathering the 2018-19 influenza season in good health by getting ahead of it.

“If vaccines are available … I would not delay,” Dr. David Cennimo, an assistant professor of medicine-pediatrics infectious disease at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, told NJ.com. “…Just get it.”

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