A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

What’s new with the flu?

Editor’s note: This article reflects data that is subject to change each year. For updated influenza data, visit cdc.gov/flu.

Every year the influenza (flu) vaccine is updated to better match the viruses that will likely be circulating that year. Determining how well a flu vaccine works can be challenging. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) studies supported the conclusion that flu vaccination benefits public health, especially when the flu vaccine is well matched to circulating influenza viruses.

Marshfield Clinic Health System will offer flu vaccines appropriate for age and health conditions of all patients in the 2022-23 season. For people ages 65 and older, the CDC recommends a higher dose or adjuvanted flu vaccine – which helps create a stronger immune response.

Girl receives influenza shot

Flu vaccines are here. Every shot counts.

If a patient would like a certain flu vaccine product, call ahead or talk to your provider about what flu vaccine option is best for you.

Why get vaccinated?

Flu vaccine prevents millions of illnesses and influenza-related provider’s visits each year. During 2019-2020, flu vaccination prevented an estimated 7.5 million influenza illnesses, 3.7 million influenza-associated medical visits, 105,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations, and 6,300 influenza-associated deaths.*

In seasons when the vaccine viruses matched circulating strains, flu vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of having to go to the doctor with influenza by 40% to 60%. The CDC has found that between 2010 to 2020, the flu resulted in between nine million and 41 million illnesses annually in the United States.*

A study done by the CDC, using estimation methods, has also shown hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized with the flu annually.

*This is the most recent data available.

When should you get vaccinated?

Flu vaccine prevents millions of illnesses and influenza-related provider’s visits each year. Influenza vaccine effectiveness is affected by vaccine match and circulating viruses. During the past several years the vaccine has reduced the risk of influenza by 30% to 40%. Studies have also shown that vaccination reduces the risk of serious influenza, including hospital admission.

“It is especially important to receive your flu vaccine this year,” said Dr. Edward Belongia, a vaccine scientist with Marshfield Clinic Research Institute. “There was very little influenza during the past two years of the pandemic, and the level of population immunity has declined. This could lead to a more severe flu season this winter.”

Where should you get vaccinated?

The Health System offers flu vaccines at primary care locations during flu season. Flu vaccine appointments are preferred. Our locations also offer flu clinics periodically throughout the season to make it convenient for patients and community members to stop in for a flu shot.

With several options on where to get your flu vaccine, Quella recommends getting your vaccine with your care team or established health system.

“Getting the influenza vaccine with your health care provider allows them to address if there are any other preventive services needed at that time,” she said. “It also allows for your provider to have the vaccination record right away.”

You can prevent influenza

When you receive the flu vaccine, you are not only helping yourself but also helping others around you. CDC reports:

  • People with influenza are most contagious in the first three-to-four days after their illness begins.
  • Some healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five-to-seven days after becoming sick.
  • Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others for an even longer time.

The time from when a person is exposed and infected to when symptoms begin is about two days, but can range from about one-to-four days.

Beyond influenza symptoms, complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma or diabetes.

Visit marshfieldclinic.org/flu for more information and available flu clinic dates.

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