Autumn has officially arrived in the United States and with it comes flu season, a term that refers to the months during which the seasonal influenza viruses are active and easily acquired. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published its latest report for the 2019-2020 flu season, detailing which vaccines will be available to the public this year, as well as the ideal time for people to get the shot.
Unfortunately, the seasonal flu comes with a lot of uncertainty, making it hard for officials to determine when the cases will peak and which influenza strains will be most common during the latest season. The CDC points this out in its 2019-2020 influenza report, explaining that flu viruses most commonly circulate in the US starting in late fall and persisting through the early spring season.
The flu can be deadly for some people, particularly young kids, the elderly, and anyone with certain existing health issues. As well, even in the majority of people who recover from the condition, the CDC points out that flu often forces people to miss multiple days of work or school and adds extra burden on the health care industry.
For these reasons, a seasonal flu vaccine is made available to the public starting around the beginning of autumn in the US. The CDC is primarily responsible for advising the public on this vaccine, which it details in its newly published 2019-2020 Flu Season FAQ. The agency notes that this year’s flu vaccines have been updated so that they’re a better match for the particular influenza viruses that have been circulating in the US.
Determining the best time to get the flu vaccine is tricky, the CDC explains — it needs to be administered before flu activity starts in any substantial way, but shouldn’t be administered too early because that may result in less protection for vaccinated individuals. In light of what it knows about the seasonal flu, the CDC is advising that the public get vaccinated for the 2019-2020 flu season by the end of October.