There has been an increase in the number of influenza B cases in the CNMI, with the islands still in the flu season.
Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. spokesperson Zoe Travis confirmed that it is flu season in the CNMI right now so there has been an increase in the number of influenza B cases.
Influenza is a potentially serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and even death in rare cases.
CHCC is urging all CNMI residents over 6 months old to get their annual flu vaccine, otherwise known as the “flu shot.”
The flu shot is not recommended for those under 6 months of age, who must instead rely on “herd immunity,” which means people around them protect them from the flu by being vaccinated and staying healthy.
CHCC states that getting vaccinated also helps to prevent the spread of the flu to the very young and very ill who may not be able to get the flu shot, such as those undergoing chemotherapy for cancer.
Flu season typically starts in September of one year and ends the following spring, around late March, so it is important for everyone to stay updated on flu shots.
Since every flu season is different, and the flu affects people differently, each season, the seasonal flu vaccine is updated to better match the flu viruses that are expected to be most common during that flu season.
However, getting the flu shot does exempt one from getting the flu. There are times when people who have gotten the flu shot will still get the flu, but those cases are still rarer than getting the actual flu infection.
Moreover, even if those people are infected with the flu even after vaccination, they tend to not get as sick as those who get the flu and never been vaccinated with the flu shot beforehand.
The more people in the community who are vaccinated, the stronger the net of protection grows, according to CHCC.
For questions regarding flu vaccination, including where to get one, contact the CHCC Immunization Clinic at 236-8745.