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The Villages
Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Get your flu shot now

Dr. Gabe Mirkin

This winter is expected to be a severe flu season:
• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that flu cases are already rising to high levels in the U.S.
• Flu virus is headed here from the southern hemisphere. Australia already has a very severe flu season
• Isolation and other measures to prevent COVID-19 has kept the flu season low for the last few years, so a lot of people are not protected by the usual previous year’s infections.
• Only 49 percent of North Americans plan to get a flu shot during the 2022-2023 flu season, according to a survey by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID), and 20 percent of people at high risk of developing serious flu-related complications are not planning to get vaccinated. Lack of immunizations means that you are likely to have greater exposure to the flu virus this winter. Some people refuse to get the flu immunizations because of bad publicity about side effects from COVID-19 vaccines.

You need to get the flu vaccine each year because last year’s vaccine offers little protection in the current year. Flu viruses mutate frequently and each year’s strain has a different structure than the virus that appeared the previous year. However, all flu viruses do share some of the same surface proteins, so infection or vaccination with one flu virus can help reduce the severity of infection with a different strain of flu.

My Recommendations
I think that everyone over six months of age should be immunized for the flu, with few exceptions. You are at increased risk for complications of flu if you have other serious conditions such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease or organ damage, or if you are over age 65. It takes at least two weeks for the flu vaccine to protect you.

People who are over 65 and those with impaired immune systems should get the new super-potent vaccines available this year: Fluzone High-Dose and Flublok, which contain higher doses of the vaccine, or Fluad Adjuvanted, which contains an ingredient to boost immune response.

Dr. Gabe Mirkin is a Villager. Learn more at www.drmirkin.com

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