According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) an estimated 40,000-60,000 people die from seasonal influenza each year.

In fact, CDC data shows from 2010-18 seasonal influenza-related deaths ranged from a low of 12,000 during the 2011-12 season to a high of 79,000 during 2017-18.

Most of those fatalities could be prevented with a simple action – getting vaccinated.

Dr. Alan Olson, Lydia Luepke, infection prevention manager, and Katherine Brozek, communications manager, of Carris Health - Redwood talked earlier this week about the importance of getting the seasonal influenza vaccine.

According to Olson, the best time to get vaccinated is by the end of October, as the vaccine needs a couple of weeks to become fully effective.

While influenza can hit any time, it is most often during the months of December through February when it is most prevalent, added Luepke.

Each year a new vaccine is developed, said Luepke, adding it contains four different strains – two ‘A’ and two ‘B’ strains.

The flu mist has been reintroduced this year, but Luepke and Olson both said the recommendation is to get the shot whenever possible, as it has proven to be more effective.

Anyone who is six months of age and older is encouraged to get the influenza vaccination.

Luepke said it is important to remember there are other vulnerable individuals, including those under the age of sixth months who can’t get the vaccine. So, getting vaccinated is also helping to protect them.

Getting the vaccine is not a guarantee one won’t get seasonal influenza, said Dr. Olson, adding, however, if one does come down with the flu it does not seem to last as long for those who have been vaccinated.

Luepke added the local hospital and clinic participate in the FluSafe program, which encourages staff to get vaccinated, and the local facility has been recognized for having more than 90 percent of the staff who have received the vaccine.

To learn more about the flu, including prevention measures, visit

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