Influenza season begins Oct. 1: Experts recommend getting a flu shot sooner rather than later

School is back in session, the weather is starting to get cooler and Oct. 1 will be here before you know it.

What makes Oct. 1 significant is this is the unofficial start date of flu season and health care providers will soon begin urging people to get their annual flu shots.

“The vaccines are safe, effective and save lives,” said Dr. Kathryn Moffett, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at WVU Medicine. “Every year 35,000 people die of the flu.”

Flu season typically ends in late May, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Surprisingly, West Virginia does not track actual flu cases. There were no flu-related deaths reported in the state during the 2018-19 flu season.

Statistics, however, from the DHHR show influenza-like illness peaked in the eighth week and tapered off during the 14th week last year

“Influenza is a difficult disease to quantify in the first place, as many healthy individuals who become ill with influenza do not seek medical attention or have a laboratory-confirmed diagnosis,” Laura Spadafora, flu coordinator for the state Department of Health and Human Services, said in an email.

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