Yes, it’s definitely that time again. Flu season. And after last year’s hard hit—one of the deadliest influenza epidemics in recent memory, with 49 million cases among all age groups—the Centers for Disease Control is hitting the prevention message hard. The short and sweet of it: GET YOUR FLU SHOT!
Even if the flu vaccine isn’t 100% effective in guarding against coming down with the flu, the preventive measure can reduce the severity of your suffering from flu symptoms. Plus, there’s other news this year. The nasal spray flu vaccine (also referred to as the live attenuated influenza vaccine or LAIV) has been reintroduced and deemed appropriate for healthy, non-pregnant individuals aged two through 49. And this year there’s a brand new antiviral medicine to combat flu symptoms. This new prescription drug, sold under the brand name Xofluza and manufactured by Genentech, attacks the flu virus through a novel mechanism, the first of its kind to win the FDA’s approval in nearly 20 years.
Xofluza is intended for patients age 12 and older who have already developed the flu and are within two days of viral onset. The single-dose pill can help reduce severity of symptoms, but is not a replacement for an annual flu vaccine, which remains the most effective way to prevent the illness and its potential complications.
Other important flu facts:
- The body takes about two weeks to form flu-fighting antibodies, so get vaccinated early. And if you don’t get the flu shot early, still get it! The vaccine can offer protection later in the season and prevent flu from spreading.
- Children older than six months should get vaccinated, recommends the American Academy of Pediatrics. Children six months to eight years old who are getting the vaccine for the first time need two doses given at least four weeks apart for adequate protection.
- Wash your hands!! Even if you get the vaccine, washing hands remains the best protection. And if you feel sick or suspect flu, stay home.