The flu season lasts from October to May, and claims the lives of thousands of people. While the seasonal flu times can be predicted, the flu itself changes annually. Health experts and scientists alike work together each year to develop a new vaccination that combines three virus forms. After a new vaccination is created, people are urged to receive it to prevent catching the virus and further contaminating others. Most flu cases tend to epidemics; people can recover from them without much difficulty because the viruses are not new. However, if a pandemic strikes, health officials must quickly prepare for the worst.
A pandemic is disease outbreak that occurs on a global scale and is caused by a virus that has never been seen before. Due to this new strain, the population does not have immunity towards it and everyone is at risk to catching and spreading the infection. On a positive note, pandemics are extremely rare. In the past one hundred years, only four have occurred with the worst being the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. While everyone is at risk during flu seasons, the people in most danger of the flu include the elderly and very young, pregnant women, and those with weak immune systems. In times of a pandemic, everyone is on the same level of risk and recovery rate. During the event of a pandemic threat, health experts work quickly to create a new vaccine and to organize prevention efforts.
A question that many people ask is if it is even worth receiving the flu vaccine if anyone can still catch it. While vaccine effectiveness is around 60%, doctors still recommend that the public get the vaccination since it does provide one of the best defenses against flu symptoms. It can shorten recovery time, prevent hospitalizations, protect from other related illnesses, and reduce antibiotic use. Other steps should be taken to prevent catching the flu, including washing hands regularly and avoiding those who are experiencing flu symptoms. The best protection during the flu season is to receive an annual flu vaccination as well as taking additional measures to avoid contaminating others.