If you haven’t gotten your flu shot yet, it’s not too late. But it’s later than health officials would prefer. While not as bad as the early days of last flu season, the bug is taking off in Arizona already and the number of cases is running above normal.
“Influenza activity is increasing,” the Arizona Department of Health Services said in its latest weekly report. While just 173 have been reported so far, that’s more than double the five-year average.
By this time last year, ADHS had counted 259 cases in Arizona, which ballooned to more than 35,570 for the season, with 1,178 deaths due to flu or pneumonia. Some 70,000 people in the United States died from flu last season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated every year,” the CDC advises. The agency recommends the vaccine for everyone 6 months and older, except those with certain complications, including:
- Pregnant women
- Adults 65 and older
- People with certain chronic medical conditions (examples: asthma; chronic heart disease)
Flu season typically peaks December through March. About two weeks after a flu vaccination, the body develops antibodies that help protect against infection. That’s why the CDC advises getting the shot in October. “Getting vaccinated later, however, can still be beneficial and vaccination should continue to be offered throughout the flu season, even into January or later,” the agency advises.