A mild flu season is leading many people to forego their annual vaccination shot, but public health officials are still urging people all over the world to protect themselves.
According to the Calgary Herald, influenza experts are taking advantage of the flu season’s slow start to remind people that transmission of the disease usually peaks in mid-January.
“We’re reminding people now to get their flu shots because it takes about two weeks for immunity to build to the flu shot when you do get it,” said Jason Chan-Remillard, manager of a Canadian pharmacy.
“So we kind of want to be ahead of the game, getting our flu shots just before that spike in the flu season hits,” he continued.
Only 99 cases of the flu were reported in Calgary from Aug. 30 to Dec. 26. This marks a drastic decrease from last year, when 1,400 cases were reported during that same period of time.
The Provincial Laboratory for Public Health noted that the number of flu cases typically reaches its peak during the third week of January each year. Despite the unseasonably mild weather, experts still expect this trend to hold strong.
“You don’t really think of the flu when it’s warm outside, and I think that’s led people into thinking they don’t need a flu shot this year,” Chan-Remillard added.
About one in three people still go to work after falling ill, and protecting employees during flu season is a major point of emphasis for many employers.
This year’s slow start may have some feeling safe, but American health officials are joining Canadian experts in their effort to convince more people to get a flu shot.
According to the San Diego Tribune, San Diego has experienced a 37% drop in confirmed flu cases this season compared to last year. However, with three influenza-related deaths already tallied, health officials aren’t taking any chances.
“You can feel that this year’s season is more mild than last year’s, but it’s still early. We just don’t know yet how it’s going to go next month and the month after that. People should realize that the flu is very unpredictable from season to season,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, San Diego County’s public health officer.
Health officials are also taking this time to dispel the myth that vaccines can actually give recipients influenza.
While no vaccine is 100% effective, numerous studies have shown that the severity of an illness can be reduced with immunization.