As Nebraska moves into colder temperatures and flu season, now is the time to prioritize your annual flu shot. Especially as more students return to in-person learning, vaccination is more important than ever. The classroom environment presents a higher risk for infection and overall greater opportunities for viral transmission to the community.

“Vaccination continues to remain a key opportunity for the prevention of influenza, especially as we are still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Dr. Andrew Russell, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE) medical director. “We want to avoid a seasonal influenza epidemic that would put additional strain on our health care system.” According to Russell, children can receive the influenza vaccine as young as six months old. Early vaccination can reduce the spread of infection up to 60%.

“Historically, only half of children are vaccinated for influenza each year, and this is in part due to vaccine hesitancy,” Russell says. “I would encourage parents to be proactive and discuss their concerns about vaccination not just for influenza but in general with their providers.”

Vaccines save millions of lives each year. Since the flu vaccine takes about two weeks to provide protection against the flu, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that individuals get a vaccine before the end of October.

To learn more about the flu and COVID-19 vaccines, visit CDC.Gov.

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