Flu season spikes in February

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More than 42 Californians have died from the flu between September 2018 and January 2019: Health Officials

FORT IRWIN, Calif. — Medical professionals say the flu season typically reaches its peak during this month of February, so some people have asked their doctors if the flu shot vaccine can wear off or if you can get the shot too early-on in the season. Doctors say there is no simple answer.

Dr. Franco Felizarta is an Internal Medicine/Infectious Disease Specialist for Mercy and Memorial Hospitals in Bakersfield and said there are some cases of influenza in October and November, but flu season usually begins in December, peaks in February and ends in April.

According to Federal health officials, patients are advised to get the shot whenever they can because an early flu shot is better than no flu shot at all. Felizarta does say immunity starts two weeks after the patient receives the vaccination and tends to wane by about 15-20 percent each month.

“Since 95 percent of flu outbreaks start in mid-December, the best time to get the flu shot is late October to early November,” Felizarta said.

He also says the good news is, “A second flu shot is not necessary, and one can still stay flu-free by washing your hands frequently and attempt to avoid individuals who are sick.”

Each year, the new flu vaccine is usually made available by August/September but some health professionals like immunologist Laura Haynes warn that people older than 65 years old should not get the vaccine until after September. They confirm that a combination of factors makes it more difficult for the immune systems of people older than 65 to respond to the vaccination and the protective effect may also wear off faster than it does in young people.

Please be reminded that vaccines are still available for all TRICARE beneficiaries over the age of six months at the Weed Army Community Hospital. No appointment is needed. Patients simply check in at the Primary Care kiosk and select “Immunization Clinic.”

The Center for Disease Control says up to seven million people have caught the flu this season. Health officials say at least 42 people have died from the illness since September 2018.

Visit www.cdc.gov for more information about flu myths and the illness in general.