FSA Friday - Ready for another wild flu season?

It seems like we just had this discussion, but it's fall, and that means we're hunkering down to prepare for another flu season. But something tells us more people are going to be prepared this time around.

Why? Because the 2017-18 flu season was the most devastating in nearly 40 years, thanks to a combination of resistant virus strains and even more resistant people, who simply weren't getting their seasonal flu shots.

Maybe that's because last year's vaccine was only a 36% match for the strain, according to the CDC. Maybe it was because there were just too many different varieties going around. Maybe people just didn't want to do it.

Well, even though vaccination doesn't guarantee a person will avoid getting the flu, it seems like people are a lot more conscious of the consequences this year. The headlines seem to agree.

CDC: 80,000 People Died From Flu Last Season - Alexa Lardieri, US News and World Report

Results from a 2017 CDC study were released, and showed that the vaccination reduced flu deaths among children with high-risk medical conditions by half, and among healthy children by considerably more.

This is going to ring true in a lot of years, because the study also revealed that 80,000 people died of the flu and complications arising from the virus last winter. This makes it the deadliest flu season since the late 1970s.

The article includes some thoughts from Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, who shares his thoughts on this tremendous rise in flu occurrences, severity and -- sadly -- mortality. A worthy read for anyone on the fence about getting vaccinated for the coming year.

Thankfully, one positive result of last year's flu, is that there's a lot more conversation about vaccines this year. Patients are paying attention, and researchers are being much more vocal about their predictions for flu prevention in the year to come.

The new flu vaccine recommendations as flu season approaches - Dr. Amisha Ahuja, ABCNews

This article, written by a trusted doctor aligned with ABC News, makes no bones about the upcoming season: "There's a new flu vaccine out now; it's made based on predictions of what this year's strains will be … so you do need to get it this fall."

And the timing seems to be an issue. Because of last year's devastating flu statistics, some pharmacies were a little overzealous this summer, already offering flu vaccines well ahead of the normal timeframe. Which, of course, raised some questions about how well the vaccines would work through the winter, most notably, "If you get it too early, does our immune protection wane by the end of the flu season?"

Thankfully, the article sheds some much-needed light on the topic, showing how antibodies in the vaccine might decrease over time, but also how they ultimately help the body fight influenza on its own, even if you got a shot a little earlier than usual this season.

Plus, the article features some more advice about who should prioritize these vaccines, and what warning signs there might be, depending on age, general health, and other variables.

In short, follow your doctors' advice and recommendations for timing, even if it seems earlier than usual. Because -- while we're hoping 2018-19 isn't another record-setting flu season -- getting an (FSA-eligible) vaccination early is always better than no vaccine at all.


FSA Friday is a weekly roundup of the latest topics, tips and headlines to keep you updated on all things flex spending. It appears every Friday, exclusively on the FSAstore.com Learning Center. And for the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.

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