ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – How effective each season’s flu shots are depends largely on predictions by Public Health Officials.
To come up with the best possible vaccine, Public Health Officials are constantly tracking different viral strains worldwide before coming out with it.
“Influenza vaccines are the best way to prevent influenza, we use it usually across the board pretty much everyone over age six months, and this is a safe and effective vaccine,” said Mayo Clinic Infectious Diseases Physician Dr. Pritish Tosh.
The “shot” is actually different every year and is made to target strains experts think will be the most prolific each season.
“In order to find out what strains of influenza we want to put in the vaccine each year global public health is constantly doing surveillance on what kind of viruses are being found in different parts of the world,” Dr. Tosh said. “We had some newer strains coming in a little later and for that reason the prediction of what was likely to come out this next winter took a little longer for one of the strains.”
The strains are not the only thing to predict, they also research when the season will really get going.
“It’s difficult to predict when influenza seasons will really start when the height of the influenza will come a few years ago it came right around Thanksgiving other years it’ll be delayed late into January,” Dr. Tosh said.
Even if you’re not in a high risk group, such as young children or the elderly, someone you may come in contact with might be.
“Yeah, we do expect that every year people will die of influenza and thats why we really recommend people get their vaccine,” Dr. Tosh said. “Everyone who can get the influenza vaccine should get it. It not only protects the people around them.”
While doctors now have an idea which strains they’re targeting, the flu vaccine will not be available at Mayo Clinic or Olmsted Medical Center until October. However, Walgreens is already giving flu shots.