Do You Really Need a Flu Shot Every Year?

The answer is yes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone who is at least six months of age should get a flu vaccine this season.

Vaccine vials

The influenza virus constantly mutates, changing its shape and structure each and every year to survive. Therefore, in order to effectively be protected against the virus, the composition of the vaccine also changes each year. The newly formulated vaccine then adds to the immunity built up from receiving the shot in previous years.

Children, especially those under five, may have a more difficult time fighting off influenza given that they don’t have years of exposure to other strains of influenza and have had less time to bolster their immunity. They are also at higher risk for hospitalization and serious, sometimes even life-threatening, complications from an influenza infection. It’s estimated that 10 percent to 40 percent of all children in the U.S. will contract the virus each flu season, which typically lasts from late fall to early winter.

Other priority groups include families with infants at home, pregnant women, and especially children with chronic issues such as asthma, diabetes or neurologic problems.

Healthy kids are at risk of suffering serious complications from influenza, too.  During the 2004 to 2012 influenza seasons, almost half of the children who died had been previously healthy, according to CDC’s Dr. Karen Wong, epidemic intelligence service officer.