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What we know about the 2018-2019 Flu Season

Every year, we anticipate a new flu season with different dominant viral strains circulating. A flu shot is recommended every year to boost the body’s natural antibodies in a way that best matches the predicted strains. The vaccine is developed to protect against three or four influenza viruses that extensive research has shown to most likely be the dominant strains within an upcoming season. The research helps predict what sort of flu season we will be up against in the United States.

The 2018-2019 Flu Vaccine

The 2018-2019 flu season brings a few new things, specifically as it relates to the vaccine. It has been updated to match the predicted strains and, depending on which vaccine you receive, will provide protection against three (trivalent) or four (quadrivalent) viruses. This year, the nasal spray has been approved for use in qualifying individuals aged 2 to 49 years. Per usual, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend everyone 6 months of age and older receive a vaccine.

Predicted Flu Activity

Unfortunately, it is not possible to predict the severity of the flu season we may encounter, or even the exact strains of the viruse we will in fact be up against. The precautions are created based on observations and surveillance data about circulating viruses. That being said, the U.S. typically sees flu activity beginning in October and November, peaking between December and February. There are four strains that are predicted to be the most dominant this year, all of which have been included in this year’s quadrivalent vaccination. They include:

  • A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus
  • A/Singapore/INFIMH-16-0019/2016 A(H3N2)-like virus (updated)
  • B/Colorado/06/2017-like (Victoria lineage) virus (updated)
  • B/Phuket/3073/2013-like (Yamagata lineage) virus

Those receiving a trivalent vaccination will only receive protection against the first three of the above listed viruses.

Flu Truths Every Year

Regardless of the type of influenza strains, there are commonalities between all seasons. There will still be individuals who get sick with the flu, some resulting in hospitalizations and even death. The flu shot will always be an important tool in the fight against the virus, allowing your body to develop the necessary antibodies to fight the virus and prevent spreading to those who are unable to receive the shot due to medical reasons.

If you or your family still require your flu shots, do not delay. While we are getting closer to the peak season, it is essential to receive it as soon as possible as it takes about two weeks for it to be fully effective. Our offices provide flu shots at all of our convenient locations with no appointment necessary.