Health officials change their tune on the flu shot, big time

Health officials change their tune on the flu shot, big time

It's flu shot time, and federal officials have made a major change to their recommendations.

As the fall approaches and cold weather sets in, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending people go out and get their flu shots — and they are changing their tune about one method of vaccination.

A nasal spray that had become a popular alternative to an actual injection has since fallen out of favor with health officials, so if you don’t like needles, sorry, the nasal spray no longer appears to be an acceptable alternative. The CDC now recommends only the injection for the 2016-17 seasons after experts questioned the effectiveness of the spray.

Last year, about 144 million Americans got vaccinated, and 20 million opted for the nasal spray, so that’s a huge change that could drastically reduce the total number of vaccinated individuals if many of them decide that it’s not worth it to get a shot.

The CDC heavily recommends a flu shot, noting that since so many people are hospitalized with the flu each year, it’s the easiest and most effective way to prevent hospitalizations nationwide.

The CDC statement reads: “Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently. Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others. Over a period of 31 seasons between 1976 and 2007, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people. During recent flu seasons, between 80% and 90% of flu related deaths have occurred in people 65 years and older. “Flu season” in the United States can begin as early as October and last as late as May. During this time, flu viruses are circulating at higher levels in the U.S. population. An annual seasonal flu vaccine (either the flu shot or the nasal spray flu vaccine) is the best way to reduce the chances that you will get seasonal flu and spread it to others. When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through that community.”

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