Flu season starting to impact parts of Florida

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But Minnesota health officials say too many children still remain unvaccinated and vulnerable to serious illness and even death. With October close at hand, it's important to go ahead and get that vaccination because protective antibodies can take up to two weeks to develop. "That layer of added protection is important", she said. Annually, the vaccine "prevents millions of flu illnesses and related doctors' visits and tens of thousands of hospitalizations", said the CDC in a statement.

Last season, more than 900,000 were hospitalized, double the number during many regular seasons. Cases increased in November and peaked in January and February.

In recent years, flu-related deaths have ranged from about 12,000 to 56,000.

Vaccine makers determine the composition of the vaccine each year.

"My wife's grandmother was going along OK", Adams said.

A CDC study in 2017 showed that vaccination reduced flu deaths among children with high-risk medical conditions by half and among healthy children by about two-thirds. People with allergies to vaccine ingredients can often receive the vaccine safely, if it is given in a doctor's office where they can be monitored. "Of course, we want to get those who are young or old or have compromised immune systems, definitely want them, but everybody needs a flu vaccine". Almost 58 percent of children were vaccinated, well short of the federal goal of 80 percent. Flu vaccination coverage for that group was 67.8 percent, which was lower than the 70 percent reported in the previous season, and about the same as it was five seasons earlier.

Parents are being urged to let their children have the flu vaccine this winter. Some seasons are mild. Without insurance, the cost for self-paying individuals is $25.

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The makeup of the vaccine has been changed this year to try to better protect against expected strains. Adams said that some effectiveness provided by taking the vaccine was better than no protection at all.

The vaccine is free and is given as a nasal spray rather than an injection. Last year, 220 residents participated in the clinic, which is almost half the amount of the 400 people who participated the previous year. Women that are pregnant can and should get immunized.

These more robust vaccines are more likely to produce side effects, including pain, redness or swelling, headache, muscle ache and malaise, according to the CDC.

Last season also had the highest rate of flu-related hospitalizations among older adults recorded since this type of surveillance began.

"We've got to try to do something about the messaging", said William Schaffner, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and an infectious diseases professor at Vanderbilt University.

Fatal complications from the flu can include pneumonia, stroke and heart attack.

Still, even the relatively weak flu shot probably saved many lives, CDC experts say, so everyone should avail themselves of the shot again this season.

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