October 19, 2018 – Reducing Severity
Anchor lead: Last year’s flu season was bad. How can you protect yourself this year? Elizabeth Tracey reports
In the wake of CDC data reporting 80,000 plus deaths last year due to the flu, your best strategy to avoid infection this year remains getting vaccinated. That’s according to Lisa Maragakis, senior director of infection control at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Maragakis: The best case scenario is that the flu vaccine prevents you from acquiring the flu at all and so that you don’t get sick. However it has other benefits, and that could be that people who do get the flu are not as severely ill as they otherwise would have been. And this is really because the vaccine boosts your immune response to the influenza virus, and so even if it doesn’t completely keep you from acquiring the virus it can limit the duration of symptoms and the severity of symptoms. :30
Maragakis notes that certain groups of people, including those with cancer, pregnant women, elderly people and others who may have compromised immune systems, are especially vulnerable and should discuss vaccination with their physician promptly. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.