Now that flu season is approaching, health experts held a news conference in Washington, D.C., stating that this year’s vaccine has been updated and should do a much better job at fighting the flu than last season’s.

Vaccination is the single most important step people can take to protect themselves from influenza.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., said, “Vaccination is the single most important step people can take to protect themselves from influenza.” The agency recommends that everyone age six months and older should get vaccinated.

There was controversy last year about the flu vaccine because a dominant strain of the circulating flu mutated after the vaccine had been formulated. The agency said that they track flu viruses around the world all year long to help prepare the best vaccines possible, but occasionally flu viruses can change significantly after they are included in the vaccine, resulting in a less effective vaccine. The agency emphasized that this season’s updated vaccine is the best defense in fighting the flu and protecting public health.

Manufacturer’s projections indicate than more than 170 million influenza vaccines will be available in hospitals, pharmacies, clinics, retail stores and doctor’s offices. There are several vaccine options available, including the traditional flu shot, a nasal spray vaccine, an intradermal vaccine, a high-dose vaccine for people age 65 years and older, and an egg-free vaccine. All vaccines protect against the same three or four influenza viruses.

The expert panel emphasized the critical role healthcare professionals play in patient vaccination decisions. The agency said recommendations to get the flu vaccine greatly improve vaccination coverage. In addition to getting vaccinated, CDC’s Frieden also encouraged people who are sick with the flu to stay home and start taking antiviral drugs as soon as possible.

For more information, please visit the CDC website