Experts urge vaccination before flu season

Published: Sep. 20, 2023 at 10:03 AM CDT
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(CNN) - Right now, the Centers for Disease and Prevention says cases of the flu are low in the United States, but flu season typically starts in October and peaks sometime in February.

It can go as late as May. Experts say now is the time to get a flu shot.

”We want to get ahead of it and encourage people to get a flu shot now,” said Leandris Liburd with the CDC’s Office of Health Equity.

Last flu season, there were at least 27 million cases, 300,000 flu hospitalizations and 19,000 deaths related to the flu.

While the CDC says that vaccinations reduced the risk of flu hospitalizations by about 50%, fewer than half the country got the flu shot last season.

The CDC says September and October are optimal times to be vaccinated.

”We actually expect that the flu shot that we have available will work very well and be very effective once the flu is in the northern hemisphere,” Liburd said.

The CDC says the African American and Hispanic communities are at higher risk for serious health outcomes from the flu but have been less likely to get vaccinated. Barriers such as lack of health insurance or transportation and the inability to take off from work are believed to have played a role.

State health departments, community health centers and pharmacies all have flu shots available.

To find one closest to you, the agency says to check

”It’s a way to be prepared knowing that the flu is coming,” Liburd said.

The CDC says it is safe to get the flu shot and updated COVID-19 vaccines at the same time, and the agency encourages everyone to get both shots for the best protection during the respiratory virus season.