According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) FluView flu activity tracker, the influenza virus has “increased substantially” in the south central and Southeast regions of the country, and has come the earliest since the 2003-2004:
- Visits to doctors for influenza-like symptoms (ILI) are up in five regions of the country and are high in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas.
- Alabama, Mississippi, New York and South Carolina reported widespread flu activity, while another seven (Alabama, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Ohio) have reported regional flu activity.
- Influenza A and Influenza B viruses already have been identified this season.
While influenza vaccines have been around since 1945, the type that contains a live virus have only been used since 2003, and many people still wonder if they should get a flu vaccine shot. Today, there are two basic types of flu vaccines – traditional needle injection and a nasal spray.
Who should get a flu shot?
The CDC believes that all persons aged 6 months and older should be vaccinated on a yearly basis, but especially urges the shot for children under 5 and adults who are in close contact with children younger than 5 and / or work in the child or healthcare industries.
There are special instructions for children aged 6 months to 8 years of age on the CDCs website.
Where can I get a flu shot?
Most pediatricians and primary care physicians will offer flu shots, but you do not need to see them to receive one. Many local pharmacies, groceries and neighborhood urgent care facilities administer the influenza shots.
In Prince George's County, most CVS, RiteAid, Walgreens, Giant pharmacy and Target pharmacy locations offer flu vaccines. Check with a website like FluVaccineFinder or contact your local branch of one of these stores to ensure that they offer the service.
How much does a flu shot cost?
While prices vary, a flu shot typically costs between $5 and $30, but many health insurance companies subsidize the cost. Check with your provider. There are also a number of coupons available, and some stores even offer discounts on other merchandise if you get a flu shot.