The leaves turning colors, a crispness in the air, pumpkins appearing on every corner – it must be fall. Along with pulling out the jackets and autumn décor, it’s important to also take protective steps for your health by getting your annual flu shot.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu vaccines are created to match viruses that have been circulating through the population. The CDC states that 155 million doses of the flu vaccine were distributed in the 2017-2018 flu season in the United States. Each seasonal flu vaccine is specifically created for that year to offer the most protection.
When is the best time to get the flu shot?
According to the CDC, each year the United States experiences a seasonal flu epidemic known as “flu season.” However, each year flu season varies in length and severity. The best way to keep yourself and your loved ones protected is to get the flu vaccine before the end of October.
Adults and older children only need one dose; however, children between the ages of six months and two years old typically need a flu shot in two doses. The doses must be administered four weeks apart, so if you have a little one, make sure to schedule their first flu vaccine as soon as possible.
Who is at risk for the flu?
There is no way to avoid the flu altogether; however, experts at St. Elizabeth recommend frequently washing hands, staying home when you feel sick, and making healthy lifestyle choices to minimize your flu exposure.
“Children, elderly, and people with chronic health conditions like COPD and diabetes are at the highest risk for the flu,” says Dr. Robert Tracy, family medicine physician at St. Elizabeth Physicians.
While it’s possible to still get the flu even with the flu vaccine, it can reduce the severity of your illness. If you aren’t able to get the flu shot until November or even early December, it’s still worth it – but be aware that it takes two to four weeks for the full protection of the flu shot to be activated in your body.
The Flu vaccine can save lives
Suzi Francis, a pharmacist at St. Elizabeth Healthcare, says that 80 percent of children who died from the flu didn’t have the flu vaccine in the 2017-2018 season. The CDC reports that it was the highest number of pediatric flu-related deaths on record.
Getting the flu shot can save your life—and the lives of those in your community. The flu vaccine also offers heard protection, meaning it reduces flu exposure to others who might not be strong enough to survive it. Having the flu shot helps protect yourself as well as loved ones in the community.
Flu shots are available at any of the St. Elizabeth Physicians locations, as well as local pharmacies and physician offices. For more information or to schedule an appointment with a primary care physician for a flu shot, please call St. Elizabeth Physicians at 1-800-737-7900.