If you're thinking of getting the flu shot this year, here's something you might want to consider: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are reporting that the vaccine may not be effective this year, since it was made for a strain that later mutated. Every year, the CDC develops an inactive virus vaccine based on what they estimate will be the most prevalent flu strain; since developing a new vaccine takes months and flu season peaks in January and February, it's too late to make a vaccine for the H3N2 strain they now believe will hit us the hardest.
All hope isn't lost if you want to maximize your protective potential, however. The CDC recommends still getting your flu shot, since it protects against three or four strains. Plus, experts say that the vaccine may provide some cross-protection benefit against the H3N2 strain, and that a second flu wave could occur that does involve the vaccine strains. And if you're scared of needles, consider this: while studies are mixed on the effectiveness of the nasal spray vaccine, FluMist, on adults, it is approved for those aged 18 to 49. Even better news: since the FluMist is made of live virus cultures, it's possible that it may be more protective than the shot this year. Keep in mind that you shouldn't take FluMist if you are pregnant, have asthma, or are allergic to eggs or any of the vaccine's ingredients (check out the full list of who shouldn't get the FluMist vaccine here), and that side effects of the nasal mist include cold-like symptoms such as congestion and a runny nose. Whatever vaccine method you choose, give your immune system an edge with this quick traveling hack that can help reduce your risk of catching a bug.