JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Since May 2022 when the traditional flu season ended, 21 flu outbreaks have been reported in Florida.
It’s a miserable sickness that’s also dangerous.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated from October 2021 to this past June, 8 million to 13 million people have contracted the flu.
Between 2.7 million and 6 million people have had to see their doctor, and 5,000 to 14,000 deaths have been flu-related.
The No. 1 way to reduce those numbers is to get vaccinated.
The #FluVaxJax campaign officially launched Wednesday for the third year to rally the community together to get as many people as possible protected from a severe or life-threatening case of the flu.
RELATED: #FluVaxJax coverage
Clay, Duval, Nassau, and St. Johns counties participate in the community-wide effort led by the Duval County Medical Society Foundation.
The campaign helps spread the word that if you have health insurance, the flu vaccine is covered 100%. And if you’re not insured, you can request a voucher for a FREE shot.
“The flu can be very debilitating. And so people can have severe illness from it requiring hospitalization, ICU admissions, and even death,” said Dr. Sunil Joshi, president of the Duval County Medical Society Foundation,
Joshi said nearly 2,400 people have died from the flu this year, and we’re still looking at some crucial months when it comes to the virus. Traditionally, the highest numbers come in February, but the fall is nothing to ignore.
“So our flu season here in Northeast Florida typically is December, January, February, and starts to maybe peter out in late March and into April. So if you get your vaccine in September, you’re really still at a pretty good level until March,” Joshi said.
Joshi also busted one of the No. 1 myths of the vaccine -- that if you get vaccinated you will get the flu. He said that’s impossible because it’s not a live virus. He said it’s just your immune system reacting and building antibodies that will ultimately fight against the flu if you’re ever exposed.
“That is not the flu causing that, that’s your immune system’s reaction to the vaccine causing that. And that’s very normal. You can expect that to happen. But usually, those symptoms go away pretty quickly, within 24 hours, whereas the flu itself may last for weeks,” Joshi said.
The #FluVaxJax initiative is making sure that anyone who wants a vaccine has access. If you have insurance you won’t have to pay. If you don’t, it could cost anywhere from $30-$50 for each dose. But through this campaign, vouchers will cover anyone who needs a free shot and connect people with a convenient location to get it.
If you want more information about the Free Vouchers that are available for the uninsured, click here.
You’ll just provide your email address, ZIP code and they’ll be in touch to make sure you have access to a free vaccine.
Vaccines are recommended for anyone 6 months or older. Some children need two doses. The second would come four weeks after that initial dose.
Flu vaccination reduced children’s risk of severe, life-threatening influenza by 75%.
It takes about two weeks for the antibodies to build to provide protection from the flu.