ATLANTA -- Last year's flu season was brutal and deadly. The CDC reports 145 children died from flu-related complications.
One of the reasons for the higher-than-usual rates of infection was the poor performing flu shot. It was only 14% effective; usually the flu shot has a 50% to 60% effectiveness rate.
Last year's flu virus mutated early in the season, making the prepared flu shot less effective. This year, the CDC believes they have a better handle on the virus.
11Alive Medical Correspondent Dr. Sujatha Reddy says that early mutation is unusual, and while it's to early to say for sure what this flu season holds, she expects a better vaccine to ease this year's numbers. Also, because the flu seasons have been milder in other parts of the world, the U.S. flu season is also expected to be milder.
Dr. Reddy recommends getting the flu vaccine as soon as possible. "Even though the peak of flu season is in December, it can start as early as October," she said.
It takes 2 weeks for your body to build the antibodies after you get the vaccine, so Dr. Reddy says an earlier shot means better protection.
For most healthy people, Dr. Reddy says getting the vaccine is really about protecting other people - children too young to get the vaccine, or people too sick to get it.
"We have seen tens of thousands of people die every year from the flu, it is one of the most deadly viruses we encounter in medicine, and it's completely preventable," she said. "The best way to protect those people is to surround them by people who are vaccinated, so you can protect your loved ones by protecting yourself."
The CDC says for the 2015-2016 flu season, This both trivalent (three component) and quadrivalent (four component) influenza vaccines will be available. Different routes of administration are available for flu vaccines, including intramuscular, intradermal, jet injector and nasal spray vaccine. Doctors 11Alive spoke with urge people to ask for the quadrivalent vaccine instead of the trivalent, since it protects against more strains.
The CDC says manufacturers have predicted they'll make between 171 to 179 million doses of flu vaccine for the U.S.