You may think that flu season is nearly over since the nightly news reports about how severe it is this year are gone but in reality flu activity is still widespread in over half of the United States. We have probably seen the peak of the flu season since flu activity has been declining in recent weeks, but this has been an unusually bad season and there are still many people out there with it. In fact, I am still getting daily emails and posts from readers who have it.
Since the flu is still circulating and making many people sick, the CDC wants to remind you that it's still not too late to get your flu vaccine if you haven't had one yet. In fact, they even recommend vaccination if you already had the flu this year.
This is their explanation: "There are a couple of reasons why you should be vaccinated even if you have already been sick with a flu-like illness this season. First, it's possible that your illness was not caused by a flu virus. There are other respiratory viruses circulating along with flu that can have similar flu symptoms. The only way to know for sure that a flu virus is making you sick is to have a sample taken and tested in a laboratory. Second, even if you were sick with one flu virus, the seasonal flu vaccine protects against three types of flu viruses that research suggests will be most common. This means the vaccine can offer protection against other flu viruses you haven't been exposed to yet.
CDC routinely recommends ongoing vaccination as long as flu viruses are circulating. While the 2012-2013 season has likely peaked, flu activity is ongoing and could continue for some time. During past seasons, significant flu activity has been observed as late as May."
Some people have reported difficulties finding flu vaccines recently because some providers have run out. It may take some searching, but there should still be some available in your area. If your health care provider does not have any, see our article on Where to Find a Flu Shot or try using the Flu Shot Locator.
Essentially, the CDC wants you to know:
- It's not too late to get a flu vaccine
- Flu season is not over, flu-like illnesses have fallen in the East but risen sharply in the West
- Contact your health care provider as soon as possible if you think you have symptoms of the flu. Antiviral medications can be used to reduce the severity of your symptoms and the length of your illness. While they are most effective if started within the first 48 hours of the onset of symptoms, there is some evidence that they can help after that as well.
- Follow the CDC's "Take 3" Campaign to stay healthy this flu season.