According to the Shelby County Health Department, every year about 36,000 people die from the flu. They’re encouraging locals to get their flu shot to bring that number down.
For Helen Morrow, it’s the same plea every year.
“I try to tell people every year, get your flu shot,” says Morrow, Health Officer with the Shelby County Health Department. Health officials warn this flu season could be worse than years past.
“Because of all of the natural disasters and people being displaced, housed closer together, where you may have more transmission of it,” says Morrow.
Experts say the best way to stay safe is by getting a flu vaccination.
“We are not offering the nasal spray anymore, which was an inactivated live virus. It’s all injection now. Sorry about that to those that don’t like shots,” says Morrow.
One common misconception is the vaccine will give you the flu. In fact, the shot is what’s known as a “killed vaccine”.
“After you get the flu vaccine, it takes about two weeks for your body to develop immunity, which means that you could get sick in that time period until your body has had time to develop resistance to the flu,” says Morrow.
There are two new vaccines licensed this year, one inactivated influenza vaccine, and one recombinant influenza vaccine.
“They choose the strains of the virus that they put in the vaccine every year, usually in the spring. This is based on the strains that are circulating in other parts of the world and it’s sort of a best guess on what we are going to see here in this part of the world. Some years we have better luck at choosing the strains that end up circulating than others. So the effectiveness will vary from year to year,” says Morrow.
Children can get vaccinated as young as 6-months. For senior citizens, 65 and older, there is a high-dose flu vaccine you are encouraged to get.