Why You Need a New Flu Vaccine Every Year

Most of us have experienced the unmistakable — and miserable — symptoms of the flu: sudden fever, chills, aches, coughing, and congestion. And then there’s the overwhelming exhaustion, when the slightest movement feels like a Herculean effort. 

Anyone who’s suffered from the flu, which typically lasts well over a week, knows this isn’t your garden variety cold. 

Influenza was to blame for the deaths of over 80,000 Americans in the 2017-18 flu season, and it killed an astonishing 675,000 a century earlier during one of the most serious health crises our country has ever seen. 

Board-certified family medicine physicians Dr. Bridget Bellingar and Dr. Katie Hays are committed to doing all they can to help keep the flu at bay for their patients. They consider your yearly flu shot a “wellness must,” and are happy to educate you about why you should take the flu seriously. 

Why is it so important that I get a flu shot every year? 

You may wonder why we make such a big deal about never missing your flu shot each fall. The reason is that influenza is tricky. During each flu season, several strains circulate, but the real challenge is that the virus is constantly mutating, or changing slightly.

This reality means that a one-size-fits-all vaccine just doesn’t work. Researchers instead try to develop an effective vaccine by anticipating the right combination of components, and this isn’t easy.

Each new vaccine enters the initial phase of development during the late winter and early spring that precedes the flu season, so vaccine builders must do their best to deduce what the year’s strain will look like. 

They do their best to predict which strains will dominate in the coming season, and design the vaccine around that prediction. Although it’s not an “exact” science, the vaccine offers lifesaving protection to millions annually.

Without a matching vaccine, should I still get a flu shot?

Our answer is an emphatic yes! Even an imperfect vaccine offers critical protection from a deadly disease, and even if the vaccine doesn’t fully prevent you from getting the flu this year, it can markedly decrease the severity of your symptoms if you do end up getting sick.

How do I know the flu vaccine is safe?

The vaccine has the best medical minds behind it. 

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) works in conjunction with the World Health Organization (WHO) to develop the vaccine so that when the first shipments arrive in physicians’ offices in late summer, it’s been thoroughly tested. 

You can feel confident in the vaccine’s safety also because it’s FDA-approved and produced by just a few large manufacturers. The fact that there are a limited number of vaccine sources means that production is standardized.

Arrange to take this simple step to prevent the flu

Do yourself a favor and get a flu shot as soon as possible each fall. It’s quick, easy, and painless.

In addition, to lower your chances of getting sick, practice frequent handwashing in addition to getting your flu shot. If someone in your home or office has been sick, sanitize surfaces that multiple people touch, like office keyboards and phones, and doorknobs and appliance handles at home. 

The team at Dr. Bridget Bellingar DO and Associates is happy to administer your yearly flu shot as part of your overall wellness plan. Simply call us at our Seminole, Florida, office to book an appointment or schedule online

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