Experts Implore South Jersey Residents to 'Get Your Flu Shot'

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ATLANTIC COUNTY, N.J. -

With flu season in full swing, experts are saying that it's vital to get your flu shot as soon as possible to better avoid last year's high numbers.

Many people are questioning just how severe flu season is going to be this year compared to past years, but experts said there are no answers until the season has already ended. Ultimately, the only way to have a better season is prevention, which also means getting the flu vaccination.

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According to officials with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), last year the virus claimed the lives of almost 200 children, most of whom had not gotten the vaccine.

“The numbers were so high last year of illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths across the county, there’s a real push throughout the entire country — if not the world — to get vaccinated, wash your hands [and] stay home if you’re sick," said Michael Heck, RN BSN, AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center.

Even with the high success rate of the flu vaccine, many people are still hesitant about getting it. Many believe that getting the vaccine means getting the flu too, but according to experts, that isn't the case.

“We get it at a time when you’re normally going to get sick because you’re starting to go inside, it’s starting to get cold, you’re seeing more people, it’s the holidays, [and] we’re out shopping," said Lisa Hartman, certified immunizing pharmacist, Curexa Pharmacy. "So, a lot of the times you get sick because you get the vaccine - it’s actually coincidental.”

“There is no live virus in the injectable flu vaccine," said Heck. "You can not get the flu from the injectable flu vaccine."

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Experts call these "flu myths" and encourage people to learn the facts so they can avoid getting sick, getting others sick, or even death.

“Last year was a very serious flu season [and] many children died," said Hartman. "More than any on record, and 80 percent of them were not vaccinated.”

With last year's high number of patients, changes were made to the vaccines for this season.

“This year, they have two different types of vaccines available," said Hartman. "One has three strains. The other has an extra strain in it, four strains. They updated two of the strains to be more in line with what they believe is going to come around this year.”

“They are the strains that are recommended by the CDC and World Health Organization," said Heck. "Whether they are an exact match or a close match for this season, it’s very helpful for the individuals to get vaccinated.”

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An additional change for this year is that CDC officials are recommending the nasal flu vaccine, which last year was deemed less effective.

The flu vaccine is available at doctor's offices, clinics and most retail pharmacies, [and] is often covered by most insurances with a low to no co-pay.

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