Is it That Time Again Already?

You’ve probably seen the signs suggesting it is time for you to get a flu shot. Can it be that time of year again already?

Well….flu season is not “officially” here yet, but according to a recent article on KJZZ Radio in Phoenix:

….it’s not too early to get vaccinated. Arizona Department of Health Services Director Cara Christ said the season typically runs from October through April but there’s no way to stop it from starting earlier — or predicting its severity.

“Until we start seeing it within our own communities, we don’t know whether or not it’s going to be severe whether or not we’re going to have widespread influenza infections. We always are just watching and doing what we can to prevent people from getting ill,” said Christ.

However – a recent headline in the Arizona Daily Sun read, “The ads say ‘get your flu shot today,’ but it may be wiser to wait.” The following excerpt is from that article.

Not that long ago, most flu-shot campaigns started as the leaves began to turn in October. But the rise of retail medical clinics inside drug stores over the past decade — and state laws allowing pharmacists to give vaccinations — has stretched the flu-shot season……But some experts say the marketing may be overtaking medical wisdom since it’s unclear how long the immunity imparted by the vaccine lasts, particularly in older people.

“If you’re over 65, don’t get the flu vaccine in September. Or August. It’s a marketing scheme,” said Laura Haynes, an immunologist at the University of Connecticut Center on Aging.

That said, health officials added that an early flu shot is better than no flu shot at all. And that is a particularly important distinction here in Arizona, since back in January and February….we had the highest flu rate in the country!

According to a Tucson News Now story on February 25th of this year, “It’s flu season across the country, but a new report is shining the light on Arizona and not in a good way. Arizona has been the hardest hit with more people battling the flu bug than anywhere else in the United States. In just the past week, Arizona had 1,600 cases of flu reported.”

While there may be some disagreement over ‘when’ it might be best to get your flu shot, there is little disagreement, at least among health experts, that you should get one. Only caveat is….if you prefer the nasal spray, we want to let you know that it is not recommended this year. KNAU Public Radio recently wrote, “The American Academy of Pediatrics said that it doesn’t recommend using the flu vaccine that comes as a nasal spray. That’s because the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at its performance last year and concluded it wasn’t up to snuff.”

Share your thoughts on whether you think it is best to wait a little longer or whether you are suggesting that people in your community get their flu shot now. And do you believe some parents will pass on vaccinating their kids if the nasal spray isn’t recommended? Generating conversations around our state’s important health issues is another way we are working toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!

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