So far, the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. has already inoculated 6,612 people in the CNMI with the influenza vaccine, with a goal to vaccinate 20,000 people in the CNMI by January 2021.
According to Vaccinate CNMI’s official website, 1,299 children and 5,313 children have been vaccinated in the CNMI as of Dec. 4.
CHCC chief executive officer Esther Muña stated in previous interviews that the quantitative data on influenza data in the CNMI this year will aid in CHCC’s efforts to predict how many of the local population will avail to the COVID-19 vaccine.
The CNMI has an estimated population of 50,000.
“This season it’s more important than ever to get a flu shot. Getting a flu shot protects you, your loved ones, and our community from the flu. If you’ve never gotten a flu shot before, this is the year to start,” said CHCC in a statement.
Influenza, or the flu, is a potentially serious disease that can lead to hospitalizations and sometimes death. According to CHCC, getting the flu vaccine every year is the best way to help protect against the flu; however, every flu season is different and influenza infection can affect people differently.
How the vaccine works is that it contains pieces of “killed or weakened virus particles.” It is not likely that you will get the flu from the vaccine, but encountering the flu-like symptoms, such as fever and sore arms, after getting the flu shot is a sign that your body is correctly responding to the vaccine.
There are two ways to get the vaccine: the flu shot, and for those who aren’t a fan of needles, there is also a nasal spray vaccine.
The viruses in a flu shot are killed, or inactivated, so you cannot get flu from a flu shot. The viruses in the nasal spray vaccine are weakened and don’t cause severe symptoms that often comes with influenza illness.
CHCC stated that it takes approximately two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against influenza virus infection, which is why it’s best to get vaccinated before influenza viruses spread.
The flu vaccine is needed every season for two reasons: first, a person’s immune protection from vaccination declines over time, so an annual vaccine is needed for optimal protection. Second, the flu virus is constantly changing.
According to CHCC, the flu vaccines may be updated from one season to the next to protect against viruses that research suggests may be most common during the upcoming flu season. It is best that everyone six months and older should get vaccinated annually.
The CNMI is expected to receive the COVID-19 vaccine late this year or early next year.