Most influenza strains can keep hibernating for winter. But this year, every one of the influenza strains H1N1, H3N2, H1N2 and H7N9 that pop up has risen to the top of the USA’s flu list.
Think we can assume the vaccines are effective? No. No, we cannot.
Most vaccines take nine months to develop, but this year the CDC did not have enough. So it put out a new strain as a contingency plan. We’re also talking about lots of new drug injections going out. So it’s a very convoluted process.
What does that mean for you? Be prepared for a lot of flu shots for everyone. Whether or not your vaccine matches that of others is a gamble, but you’re screwed if it doesn’t.
And a word of caution about viruses. While they’re all different, the influenza virus is just a category of influenza, and many of them have similar mutations. So, if you’re the only person among hundreds of others who got the vaccine, you could get the same strains as everyone else in your office. Not great.
How long will it take to get your shot? It’s best to take them while the cold/flu season is relatively mild. Take the first 3 or 4 times you get the shot. Then, when it’s really cold, don’t go near your body for two weeks after your last dose. Let it work up to two weeks.
I’m sure we’ll get some feel-good stories about kids getting vaccinated. But try to get your shots on the same days kids do — like, sometimes at school or sports practice. Because too many months of unprotected kids in the country can lead to a problem.
Bottom line? Go ahead and get your flu shot. (And hope they get it right.)
Ryan Tracy lives in Bothell, WA.
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