A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

What’s new with the flu in 2023?

Every year the influenza (flu) vaccine is updated to better match the viruses that will likely be circulating that year. The flu vaccine is the best and most effective way to prevent serious illness from the influenza virus. During the most recent flu season, 5,000 people died from the flu and over 100,000 were hospitalized in the US.*

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly recommends yearly vaccination for all adults and children who are at least 6 months old. For people ages 65 and older, the CDC recommends a higher dose or adjuvanted flu vaccine – which helps create a stronger immune response.

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.

When to get the flu vaccine?

Marshfield Clinic Health System will offer flu vaccines throughout the fall and winter but getting vaccinated early is important since the flu season is unpredictable.

“Everyone should get a flu vaccine this year, preferably before November,” said Dr. Edward Belongia, a scientist at the Marshfield Clinic Research Institute who studies vaccine safety and effectiveness. “This could be a more severe flu season due to declining immunity and a return to more normal life without masking and other pandemic precautions.”

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

Why get vaccinated?

Flu viruses are constantly changing to escape the immune system, and each year the flu vaccine is updated to match the current viruses. The vaccine provides the best protection when there is a close match between the vaccine and the circulating flu viruses.

Flu vaccine effectiveness varies in different years and populations, and vaccine effectiveness studies are conducted each year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A study led by Marshfield Clinic researchers during the 2022-23 season found that flu vaccine reduced influenza visits by 54% in children and working age adults; a separate Marshfield study reported 71% protection against flu illness in children. Other studies reported similar levels of protection against severe flu illness (hospitalization).

“Many people do not get the flu vaccine even though it is very safe and effective,” said Dr. Belongia. “Last season, only 38% of Wisconsin residents were vaccinated. Fortunately, vaccine coverage was much higher (72%) among adults aged 65 and older.”

During the 2023-34 influenza season, there was an increase in death of children from flu with 162 pediatric deaths, three in Wisconsin. Comparing to previous years, CDC stated that the number of pediatric flu deaths in a season has ranged from 1 (2020-2021) to 199 (2019-2020). Prior to the pandemic, the record low for pediatric deaths was 37, which was during the 2011-2012 season.

Protecting children from illness, especially flu, is top of mind when you’re a parent and especially true when your children are very young.

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, Penny Funk, MSN, Marshfield Clinic Health System Clinical Quality Nurse, 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 vaccines or other preventive services that are needed,” she said. “It also allows for your provider to have the vaccination record right away.”

If you do not have an established primary care provider, visit marshfieldclinic.org/primarycare to find a provider near you.

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

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

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