Have you gotten your flu shot yet?

Seasonal flu activity hasn’t started to climb yet in Alaska, but cases are expected to pick up in the coming weeks. That means you should get your flu shot now if you haven’t already, especially since it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to become fully effective. It’s important to recognize that every year influenza sickens millions and kills tens of thousands of people across the United States. Over 80,000 Americans died of the flu last winter, the highest toll in years. Even though flu vaccine effectiveness can vary from year to year – last year’s vaccine was about 40 percent effective overall – flu vaccine is the best tool we have to prevent flu-related illness, hospitalizations, and deaths. Studies show that flu vaccine reduces the risks of flu-associated hospitalizations by about 40 percent. Importantly, studies also show that the flu vaccine does not cause the flu.  Moreover, an annual flu vaccine can result in milder illness if you do get sick. Everyone six months of age or older should get a flu vaccine every season.

Learn more, including where to get vaccinated in Alaska, at DHSS’s influenza website. The Division of Public Health Section of Epidemiology tracks flu cases and provides a weekly Alaska influenza report. To subscribe to the Flu Snapshot or other DHSS bulletins, sign up here.

In the photo above: DHSS Commissioner Dr. Butler got his flu shot last month and participated in our DHSS Facebook social media campaign encouraging Alaskans to get their flu shot. Flu vaccine helps keep Dr. Butler and his athletic family including his daughter and niece, shown here at the Boston Marathon, healthy. #WhyIFightFlu

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