2013-2014 Flu Season: What You Need to KnowAutumn may bring temperate weather and falling leaves, but it also marks the beginning of the 2013-2014 flu season.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people at highest risk include those 65 and older and those with health conditions that affect the heart, lung, kidneys, or weaken the immune system.

Experts suggest getting vaccinated early, especially if your loved one is living in a nursing home or a long-term care facility. The same goes for caregivers who are providing care for an aging parent or other elderly loved one.

While the peak of any given flu season is generally in January and February, it can sometimes start as early as October in some years, and end as late as May in others. As such, the timing, severity, length, and other factors can be unpredictable. And since each new season can bring new strains of influenza, yearly vaccinations are necessary.

So what’s in store for the 2013-2013 flu season? The CDC recently published its yearly influenza guide. A few key points we should all know are below.

  • Manufacturers project that there will be nearly 140 million doses of influenza vaccine produced for the 2013-2014 season in the U.S.
  • Most of these vaccines will be trivalent (three component), but some will be formulated to protect against four flu viruses (quadrivalent). The type of vaccine produced depends on the manufacturer, but all nasal spray vaccines are expected to be quadrivalent.
  • As in years past, the 2013-2014 formula is designed to protect against influenza viruses that experts predict to be the most prevalent during the season. These include influenza A (H1N1) viruses, influenza A (H3N2) viruses, and influenza B viruses. For this season, the vaccine will protect against an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1) pdm09-like virus, an A(H3N2) virus, and a B/Massachusetts/2/2012-like virus.
  • Keep in mind that it’s not possible to predict which flu viruses will be most widespread during any given season, as flu viruses are constantly changing. Part of this process involves experts doing their best to predict which ones will be most prevalent for the upcoming season, in order for vaccines to be produced and delivered on time.

While the influenza virus changes over time, one thing is certain: getting vaccinated every year is you and your loved one’s best bet for avoiding coming down with the flu.

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