Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Flu season is coming. Here’s how to prepare.

Dr. Kwang said people at high risk for flu complications, including those who are pregnant, 65 or older, or have conditions such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes, want to get the flu vaccine as soon as possible. People living in parts of the United States that already have moderate or high flu activity, such as Texas, New Mexico, Delaware and Georgia, should also get vaccinated as soon as possible. (Scroll down on the map on this webpage to see what flu activity is like where you live.)

If you are not at high risk for complications and flu activity is low where you live, and if you are someone who likes to customize your flu protection, waiting a month or two may be a wise choice. , the experts I spoke with said. Dr. Nuzo said she usually gets her flu shot in October, while Dr. Kwang said she often waits until November.

Emily Martin, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of Michigan, said waiting makes sense because people are exposed to flu viruses in the winter, not early fall — and protection from the flu vaccine may diminish over time. She goes. of public health.

Dr. Martin and colleagues published a study in 2021 that found the ability of the flu shot to protect against flu-induced hospitalization drops by 8 to 9 percent each month after vaccination in four flu seasons. . A 2019 study reported that the chance of getting the flu increases by 16 percent every 28 days after vaccination. This is relevant given that in the past flu season, the flu was still spreading in some US territories in March, April and even June, perhaps because people were ramping up travel and easing COVID restrictions. were easing. If you got the flu vaccine in August, or if you get it in September, you may not be protected against the flu in the spring and early summer months, Dr. Kwang said.

That said, the vaccine may still partially protect you after seven or eight months, Dr. Martin said. So don’t worry if you have already been vaccinated. He said that it is better not to get the flu vaccine early.

Even if the flu is not yet spreading where you live, experts recommend wearing a mask in crowded indoor spaces. “Masking helps reduce the spread of not only the flu, but a lot of respiratory viruses,” Dr. Martin explained, and outbreaks at school in the early fall could cause 20 or more viruses to spread, she said. Dr. Kwang recommends wearing high-quality, well-fitting masks such as N95s, KN95s or KF94s. If that is not possible, surgical masks are more protective than cloth masks, but cloth is better than nothing, he said.

Nation World News Desk
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