This year's flu vaccine is now available at the McLean County Health Department, and health officials hope it's more effective than last year's.
Last year's flu season was especially bad, as more than 700,000 people in the United States were hospitalized.
Public health nurse Heidi German said if people are discouraged from getting the shot, that limits the effectiveness of herd immunity.
“That’s the unfortunate thing. Sometimes the flu season is worse because people don’t get vaccinated,” German said. “If we have a not very bad flu season, people think flu season wasn’t bad, I don’t need a flu shot.”
German said the injectable flu shot and nasal spray are both available this year, though the health department is still waiting on its vaccine for children.
It could be weeks before we find out how effective this year's flu vaccine is.
The vaccine is typically 40-to-60 percent effective, but seems to have been lower last year. The Centers for Disease Control reports 172 children died and 80 percent of them did not get the vaccine.
“I know some people are wondering because last year the flu vaccine was not very effective,” German said. “They did actually update two of the four strains in the flu vaccine so there can be better coverage.”
German added the CDC is recommending either the injectable shot or the nasal spray, unlike last year when the spray was considered to be less effective against the H1N1 virus in children.
The CDC recommends everyone over six months get the flu shot, including those more at risk of flu complications, such as pregnant women, young children, people 65 and older and anyone with underlying health conditions, such as asthma and diabetes.
The McLean County Health Department, 200 W. Front St., Bloomington, accepts walk-ins to receive the flu vaccine. The department accepts public and most private insurance plans. For those without insurance, the cost is $30.
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