With more than twice as many confirmed cases of the flu at this point of the flu season than at the same time a year ago, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield says, “you’ll want to think twice about skipping the flu vaccine.”
As of Nov. 30, 2019, New York logged 3,158 confirmed cases of the flu, compared to 1,462 confirmed cases at the same time a year earlier.
The flu has different types, or strains, affecting people. Health experts are seeing more cases of influenza B strains circulating this flu season, compared to a year ago. Nationally, influenza B, influenza AH1N1 and influenza AH3N2 have “significant circulation,” with dominant strains varying by region and patient age, Excellus said in a Dec. 18 news release.
Six of 10 upstate New York adults surveyed by Excellus believe it’s important to get the annual flu vaccine, but last year, only half were vaccinated.
Rochester–based Excellus is Central New York’s largest health insurer.
People with the flu can infect other individuals one day before any symptoms develop, and up to about seven days after they become sick. The virus can spread to others who are up to about six feet away, mainly by microscopic droplets expelled into the air when people cough, sneeze, or even talk.
For some people, the flu results in a fever, the chills, body aches, cough, and a runny nose. But for the very young, the very old, women who are pregnant, and individuals with compromised immune systems, catching the flu can place them at high risk for much more serious complications, including death.
It isn’t “always obvious” who among us is most vulnerable, per the release.
“It takes all of us getting vaccinated to keep our community safer this flu season,” said Vienne. “The flu vaccine is covered in full by many health insurance policies, and you usually don’t need an appointment to receive the vaccine at a pharmacy, so there’s really no excuse for not getting a flu shot.”
The flu season lasts until May. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends annual flu vaccines for everyone six months and older. It takes about two weeks after the vaccine is administered for it to provide protection, and it is “never too early or too late” in the flu season to get a flu vaccine, the health insurer said.