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It’s only October, but we already have the first confirmed pediatric flu death of the season in the United States. Florida health officials announced that an unvaccinated child died between September 30 and October 6 of influenza B, which is generally the less-deadly virus of the four types of influenza in circulation.
The New York Times reports that there have been 30 adult deaths due to flu during the 2018-2019 season, and thousands of adult deaths due to pneumonia—a condition often related to the flu.
Flu - Season - December - February - Ideally
Flu season typically peaks between December and February. Ideally, all kids who are able to get the shot would be vaccinated by the time illness hits its stride, but the start of October is so early in the season that many parents may not have prioritized getting their kids to the pediatrician or pharmacy for their annual shot. As the Times reported the circumstances under which the child was not vaccinated remain unknown.
Plenty of people are cued to go get vaccinated by reports about how bad the season is getting, but the trouble is that it can be too late by then. Flu shots take at least two weeks to be fully effective—your body needs that time to produce antibodies that will recognize incoming viruses. That means you should really be getting your vaccine before flu season hits, not during.
People - Shot - Vaccine - Year - Percent
Some people don’t bother getting the shot because they think the vaccine isn’t very effective. Last year’s was only about 36 percent effective. Except here’s the thing: that’s actually pretty good. Most years we don’t exactly nail which viruses will spread around the world, since influenza is constantly mutating in an effort to evade our defenses, but even when we don’t get it right the vaccine still offers you protection against the worst of the flu. An imperfect...
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