Flu awareness and prevention

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -- According to the Center for Disease Control, 180 children died from the flu in 2017. In Florida, none of the 8 children who died were vaccinated from the flu.

UF Health Shands held a flu shot event on Thursday and spoke about awareness and prevention.

2017 produced a record flu season across the United States and medical professionals say now is the time to get your flu shots for this year.

Here's what a UF Health doctor has to say about getting ready for flu season.

"Last year many of you will remember we had an extraordinary flu season."
Said Dr. Nicole Iovine, an epidemiologist with UF Health Shands. And it was one of the deadliest flu seasons on record, especially for children.
"Tragically we also saw the highest levels of deaths in the pediatric population that we had ever seen before. 180 children across the United States died because of the flu. The Center For Disease Control says 80 percent of them were not vaccinated."

This year Alachua County Public School children are getting nasal vaccinations called Flumist. It was discontinued for two years because it didn't prove successful in fighting the H1N1 strain of the flu, but that changed and it is now more effective.

Dr. Iovine explained why Flumist is back to being a viable option. "The manufacturer went back and analyzed the strain of H1N1 that was in that vaccine and changed the strain to a completely new strain of H1N1. They found out that with this new strain in there, that people who got the Flumist had very good antibody responses so that's the reason that vaccine has been brought back."

And contrary to popular belief Dr. Iovine says you can't get the flu, from the flu shot.
"So one of the things it's very important for people to understand about the flu shot is that it can't give you the flu, it cannot. Because the virus is completely dead so there is no way to get the flu from the flu shot it's just not possible."

Shands employees, management and even their CEO got their flu shots and almost every employee will do so.

Holly Nelson is the Registered Nurse giving UF Health employees their shots who explained why most employees will get vaccinated. " It's not mandatory, it's highly recommended and then if you choose not to get the vaccine what you do is be protected with a mask for the entire flu season period."