Health Official Discusses Flu, Risks

Johnson County Public Health
Johnson County Public Health

The Johnson County Board of Health had their quarterly meeting with the county commissioners Tuesday, and Doctor Mark Schueler discussed the need for residents to get the flu vaccine.

Schueler told the BOH that flu season is in full swing and those that haven't had the vaccine should get one. Johnson County traditionally has good numbers of the population vaccinated every year, which he said undoubtedly saves lives.

Last year's vaccine matched the circulating flu strains very well, but there was an unusually high failure rate of the vaccine especially with older individuals where nearly 50% of those vaccinated got the flu anyway. He said that is still a better rate than 80 to 90% they would expect to get sick without the vaccine.

Studies are looking at a higher-dose vaccine but it hasn't been around long enough to know if it really makes a difference, he said. It is a stronger variety of vaccine and can be given to those who have a less responsive immune system.

Schueler has suggested to some patients with lung disease to get a booster flu vaccine three or four months into the flu season.

For those that are high-risk of getting flu that may have been vaccinated this fall, considering a booster vaccine at the beginning of the year would protect the patient through the end of the flu season which can stretch into March and April.

In future years, he expects the industry will learn more on how to protect those at the highest risk, but for now they recommend everyone over six months of age to receive the flu vaccine.

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