Don’t wait to get vaccinated: Experts warn the flu is spreading fast

Don’t wait to get vaccinated: Experts warn the flu is spreading fast (News4JAX)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – If you haven’t gotten the flu shot yet, now is the time. And if you don’t have insurance, you can request a free vaccine.

The flu is spreading fast across the country. So far this flu season, the CDC says nationwide, there have been at least:

  • 13 million reported flu cases
  • 120,000 flu hospitalizations
  • 7,300 deaths from flu - 21 have been children

Experts warn those numbers will continue to climb. Dr. Susan Rehm, an infectious disease specialist with Cleveland Clinic, says the southern hemisphere is often a predictor of what kind of flu season we will have here in the United States. And so far, it’s been active. She says younger people are also being impacted more than usual.

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“When it comes to flu vaccine, we recommend that everybody age six months and older get vaccinated. This year and every year,” she said. “The flu virus changes with time, so it’s important to get vaccinated every year to try to address those changes that might be there.” Doctors say an annual flu vaccine is the best way to protect against flu. Vaccination helps prevent infection and can also prevent serious outcomes in people who get vaccinated but still get sick with flu. Symptoms can vary widely, but may include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Headaches
  • Body aches
  • Fatigue

Rehm says most people will usually feel better on their own within a week, but some may develop complications that could lead to hospitalization or even death.

“People who are very young and very old, or who have chronic medical conditions, are at risk for more complications and more severe flu. So, while it’s important for all of us to get vaccinated, it’s really important for young people, older people and people who have illnesses to get vaccinated,” she said.

Rehm believes flu season is likely going to be worse this year due, in part, to less people wearing masks like they did throughout the pandemic.

If you have health insurance, most insurers cover 100 percent of the cost of a flu shot. If you are uninsured and live in Northeast Florida, you can request a voucher for a free flu shot from the #FluVaxJax campaign.

#FluVaxJax is a community campaign led by the Duval County Medical Society Foundation. The goal is to get as many people vaccinated against the flu as possible.

Wednesday on The Morning Show, the president of the DCMS Foundation -- Dr. Sunil Joshi – will join us at 7:40 a.m. to talk about what local doctors and hospitals are seeing her with the spread of the flu and access to the flu vaccine.

About the Authors:

Anchor on The Morning Show team and reporter specializing on health issues.