It can only mean one thing when long summer days have come to an end, school is back in session, and cooler temperatures are on the horizon with the arrival of fall – flu season is coming!
As influenza activity begins to rise in October, be prepared and plan to protect yourself, your family, and those around you by getting your annual flu vaccine. The CDC advises that everyone six months and older get vaccinated yearly, but especially encourages the elderly and young children due to their high risk for complications. Let’s not forget that vaccines are also an important part of a healthy pregnancy. Not only is the woman protected during and after pregnancy, but studies have shown that the developing baby is also protected for several months after birth. While simple health habits like washing your hands to reduce the spread of germs might be helpful, it will not be enough to protect you from the infection associated with thousands of deaths every year.
Even though every flu season is slightly different – earlier, later, milder, or harsher – being vaccinated is still the best way to prevent those dreadful flu-related sick days or even worse, hospitalization. It’s especially important for everyone to be vaccinated prior to the holidays when flu activity typically hits its peak. In the best interest of your health, act now and get your shot! You will need about two weeks following the shot for your body to develop adequate protection from the flu. Note that unlike prior years, the CDC is only endorsing the shot as their most effective method. The nasal spray flu vaccine is not recommend for the 2016 – 2017 season.
Not sure where to get your flu shot? The CDC suggests using this HealthMap Vaccine Finder to find a flu clinic near you.
A few years ago, we interviewed William Shaffner, MD, past president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, about the importance for all adults to become fully immunized according to recommended schedules. Dr. Shaffner had some simple advice for those considering whether or not to get the flu vaccine: Just do it!
For more information about the 2016 – 2017 flu season, visit the CDC’s resource page.