PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The flu forecast is cloudy. Federal health officials say it’s too soon to know if the U.S. is in for a third miserable season in a row, but they’re advising Americans not to delay vaccination.
While the vaccine didn’t offer much protection the past two years, specialists have fine-tuned the recipe for this season in hopes it will be a better match.
The CDC is urging everyone 6 months and older to get vaccinated and now is the time.
Federal health officials got their flu shots on camera to encourage Americans to get vaccinated.
“As Benjamin Franklin advised us, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Vanderbilt University Medical Center Dr. William Schaffner said.
The CDC estimates that only 45% of U.S. adults and 63% of children get vaccinated.
Health officials say while the vaccine isn’t perfect, it’s worth it for even partial protection.
“I analogized getting vaccinated to wearing your seat belt,” U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said. “It doesn’t mean you’re invincible, but it offers very substantial protection for very little effort.”
Last year’s flu season was one of the longest on record after a new strain emerged in April. The year before was the deadliest in decades.
The CDC says it’s too early to know what this flu season will hold, but so far it doesn’t look like it’s getting off to an early start.
In Australia, where the flu season is winding down, the number of flu cases is the highest in history — more than four times than the year before.
That may not bode well for the U.S.
The CDC recommends getting vaccinated by the end of October. The flu typically starts circulating widely in November or December and peaks by February.