Health officials call for flu shots ahead of potentially severe season

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging Americans to get their flu shot ahead of a season that is predicted to be especially active. 

Levels of the flu had been historically low amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but Australia recently saw a particularly nasty flu season, sparking fears worldwide. 

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky on Tuesday urged Americans to get a shot before the end of the month.

“Over the past two years, we’ve seen some worrisome drops in flu vaccination coverage, especially in some groups of people who are at the highest risk of developing serious flu illness,” she noted. 

Walensky said that people who were vaccinated were 35% less likely to get sick with influenza than those who were not. 

Notably, pregnant people and children – who are at higher risk of serious complications from the flu – experienced some of the greatest drops in coverage over the last two seasons.

In a release from the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID), which hosted the conference, Walensky said that nearly half of U.S. adults received their flu vaccine. 

Data from the NFID found only 49% of U.S. adults plan to get a vaccine during the 2022-2023 season. 

Health experts and the CDC are calling on everyone ages 6 months and older to get an updated quadrivalent flu shot, with some exceptions. 

Seniors should ask for a special extra-strength kind and there are three that are preferentially recommended for people ages 65 and older.

Those include the Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent vaccine, Flublok Quadrivalent recombinant flu vaccine and Fluad Quadrivalent adjuvanted flu vaccine.

Fluad Adjuvanted, unlike the others, has a regular dosage but contains a special ingredient that helps boost people’s immune response.

Seniors can ask what kind their doctors carry, although most vaccinations are given in pharmacies. 

If a location is out of senior-targeted doses, the CDC says it’s better to get a standard flu shot than to skip vaccination,

Vaccine manufacturers have projected that they will supply the nation with as many as 173.5 million to 183.5 million doses of influenza vaccines for the 2022-2023 season. 

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