CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Flu season is bearing down on us and there are some indications it will be worse than usual.
Australia is suffering already and seeing more than double the flu cases compared to last year. Australia’s Immunization Coalition reported 168,337 cases so far this year. In 2016, Australia reported 91,000 cases.
Here are five things you need to know about the flu.
1. Influenza kills
The Center for Disease Control estimates that 36,000 people die each year from the flu and recommends everyone 6 months of age and older to get vaccinated.
2. The flu shot works, meaning it lowers the chances you'll catch influenza
"The flu shot is effective," said one doctor. "Every year the flu shot covers four different strains of the flu and the CDC does its best job to put coverage for the flu strains they think will be circulating in the upcoming year."
Recent CDC studies show the flu vaccine reduces your risk of flu by 50-60 percent. And if you still get the flu, the vaccine reduces the risk of hospitalization for both children and adults over 50.
3. Now is the time
It takes about two weeks for the vaccine to take full effect. There's plenty of vaccinations to go around now since it's early. But if you wait, there could be a shortage.
4. Here's a vaccination to avoid: the nasal mist
"This year, unfortunately, the flu mist or nasal spray vaccine is not going to be effective," said one doctor. "And the Center for Disease Control is not recommending it this year."
5. No, you can't catch the flu from the shot
A sore arm is actually the top side effect, maybe a little feeling bad or a little cough, but it won't actually give you the flu. That's not a possibility with how the flu vaccine is made.
There are a few other things doctors want you to do in order to reduce the spread of the flu. First of all, wash your hands frequently. Secondly, cough into your sleeve.