Since 2005, the CDC has enforced National Influenza Vaccination Week to emphasize the importance of continuing flu vaccination even through the winter months.

Although it is the holiday season, the CDC and other organizations want to remind the general public that it is never a bad time to get your flu vaccine. Sam Nass, PharmD, MBS and Walgreens Immunizations Manager weighed in on the subject in an interview with Pharmacy Times®.

“While it’s best to get your flu shot as soon as the vaccine becomes available, it’s never too late,” Nass said. “Even if you don't get your annual flu vaccine until January or later, you can still benefit from it. It takes about 2 weeks to develop the antibodies to fight the flu after getting your flu shot, so it’s important to get it before the flu spreads in your community to best protect yourself and loved ones.”

During the 2016-2017 season, flu vaccination helped prevent an estimated 5.3 million influenza illnesses, 2.6 million influenza-associated medical visits, and 85,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations. Even with this research from previous years, there are still many people that believe that receiving the flu vaccine will lead to contracting the flu.

“The flu vaccine cannot cause flu illness,” Nass said to Pharmacy Times. “The vaccine is manufactured using what’s known as a ‘dead’ or inactive virus, so it cannot cause anyone to get influenza as a result of receiving the vaccine.”

In addition, many people think that since they are healthy, they do not need any vaccinations to help them. “Even in a healthy person, the flu can become severe,” Nass said. “Not getting the flu shot increases the chance you may get the flu and miss work or other important events; you might also get other people sick. The vaccine not only protects you, but helps protect your family, friends, coworkers and people you pass in public.” Children, the elderly, and pregnant women are among the vulnerable populations that benefit from widespread immunization.

Fortunately, there are many resources available to help educate others on the flu. For example, the Walgreens Flu Index® provides an interactive weekly report ranking the top markets and states for flu activity in the United States, including Puerto Rico.

“In addition to tracking current flu activity each week, users can also see how current flu activity compares to flu activity from that time last season,” Nass said. “New data shows the flu starting to intensify in several states, including Louisiana, Nevada, Texas, and Mississippi. If you’re traveling during the holidays, it’s a good idea to take a look at this information and make sure you get your flu shot.”


Reference

About National Influenza Vaccination Week. CDC website. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/resource-center/nivw/about.htm. Published October 28, 2019. Accessed December 2, 2019.