Flu seasons are unpredictable. While the flu spreads every year, the timing, severity, and length of the season varies. Flu viruses are constantly changing, so it's not unusual for new flu viruses to appear each year.
Flu season usually starts in October and peaks in January. According to the CDC, flu shot vaccinations are approximately 75 percent effective. Although they don’t provide complete protection, physicians and medical care providers believe being vaccinated is the most effective way of preventing the flu.
The CDC recommends an annual vaccination for anyone 6 months of age and older, as well as people with high risk factors. Children under 2 years and adults over 65 years, pregnant women, and people with heart disease or diabetes fall into the high risk category.
While there are many different flu viruses, the seasonal flu vaccine is designed to protect against the viruses that research suggests will cause the most illness during the season. People should get their vaccinations as soon as vaccines becomes available, ideally by the beginning of October. This ensures that as many people as possible are well protected, before the flu season begins.
Here are a few ways to help prevent the flu:
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