Protecting yourself against new flu strain

Reporter: Amy Oshier Writer: Matias Abril
Published: Updated:

September is significant in terms of the flu, because vaccines start rolling out to doctor’s offices and pharmacies.

Each year, public health experts try to get a jump on what viruses are going around, so they can match the vaccine to protect against it.

So, what’s new with the flu vaccine?

Lee Health Epidemiologist Mary Beth Saunders explained the annual shot is a quadrivalent which targets the dominant four strains circulating worldwide.

The southern hemisphere sees the flu before we do. That’s how we build our vaccines.

“Some years, we see the same types of influenza in our influenza protection in our vaccines, but some years there may be a little bit different than something that we’ve not seen in previous years,” Saunders said.

This year, a new flu is coming our way. It was responsible for a spike in cases in South America. It’s called the Darwin strain, and it’s covered in this year’s vaccine.

The name Darwin might draw comparisons to “survival of the fittest.”

But there’s no cause for panic. It’s a sub-type of the A-strain which hits early in the season and tends to get people sicker.

Still, experts see no reason to expect the worst.

“Darwin is one of the new newer ones that we haven’t seen redundancy in in previous vaccine.
It seems to be rather mild, but by the time it comes to the United States, it could be a whole different story,” Saunders said.

Another new twist: people with egg allergies can get any vaccine, as long as it’s given in a setting where an allergic reaction can be recognized.

That includes pharmacies. In previous years, it was recommended they only get vaccinated in a medical setting.

Florida has a long flu season. Saunders suggests you plan accordingly.

“We often advise our patients to start thinking about getting their vaccines or get their appointments set up for October, just so they can carry immunity all the way through our late season in April,” Saunders said.

New season, new strain, enough reason for health experts to say you should give the vaccine a shot.

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