Chicago, Wheaton, & Alsip, Illinois Consumers:
What You Need to Know to Stay Safe From This Year's Flu
Flu seasons are always unpredictable, and the severity, timing and duration usually vary. For this reason, experts with the Centers for Disease Control recommend flu vaccines for all people over the age of six months. In some instances, children between the ages of six months and eight years may need two doses. Since babies under the age of six months are at a very high risk for the flu, it is important to take proper preventative cautions to protect them from the virus. Plenty of helpful information is provided on the CDC's site about preventative steps for all ages.
The vaccine is designed to protect humans against the main types of flu viruses, which experts say people should be protected against by October every year. They point out that viruses change continually and new ones appear frequently. The time between December and February is usually the worst for the spread of flu viruses.
Types Of Flu Vaccines
Not all flu vaccines involve needles. Many manufacturers offer vaccines in intradermal, intramuscular and nasal spray forms. Some of these vaccines, which are called quadrivalents, are designed to protect against four different strains of the flu virus. For healthy children between the ages of two and eight years, the CDC recommends nasal spray. This is because research has shown that the spray may actually be more effective than shots for young children. However, children should receive a shot anyway if there is no nasal spray available. Private manufacturers produce the vaccine, so supply amounts depend on production volume and demand. As a rule, it is best to start looking for a vaccine clinic or make an appointment with a physician as early as possible.
Experts predict more than 150 million doses to be available, and they say more than 75 million of those will be quadrivalent. All doses are considered at least trivalent and protect a person against the H1N1, H3N2 and influenza B viruses. However, some of the quadrivalent vaccines also protect against an additional type of influenza B virus.
The effectiveness of vaccines varies from one year to the next, and it also varies between risk and age groups. Experts say that humans' immunity to influenza viruses due to vaccine or infection diminishes over time. This is due to several factors such as antigens in vaccines, a person's age and a person's health status. Many chronic illnesses have a negative impact on the effectiveness of flu vaccines. When healthy people with functional immune systems are vaccinated, their bodies continue producing antibodies. However, older individuals and people with weak immune systems do not produce as many antibodies.
Experts say the best protection against the flu is an annual vaccine. Some individuals have expressed concern each year about the current year's vaccine cocktail possibly not being effective if a new strain appears. The CDC says that since there is no way to assure people about new and unknown viruses or the vaccine's effectiveness against them, they should keep in mind that the vaccine is designed to protect against the most common strains. The good news is that the vaccine still produces antibodies, which are needed to fight any influenza virus.
Flu vaccines are usually available at a doctor's office or through flu shot clinics at pharmacies and health centers. It is still possible to contract the flu even with a vaccine, but the antibodies help fight the virus. Also, there are antiviral drugs available to help people who contract strains that respond to these drugs. To learn more about this topic, discuss concerns with your doctor.
Having Health Insurance is very important during any season, especially flu season!
If you have questions or concerns on this issue, do not hesitate to call Zeiler Insurance and speak to one of our customer service representatives. As an independent agency, Zeiler Insurance prides itself with quality customer services for the people of the Chicago-land area and the rest of the Midwest. Customer or not, we can review your insurance and see if you are being protected appropriately for the right price.
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