You might not be thinking about the flu right now, but you should. Often, people will wait until October or November to get their flu shot, but to maximize benefit, we recommend getting vaccinated in September. It takes approximately three weeks for the flu vaccine to work through a person’s body and establish immunity. Just in case you didn’t know, flu season crops up in late September and surprisingly, can sometimes last until as late as May.
Each flu season has its own unique variations, mainly because the influenza infection affects people differently. Every year, millions of Americans get the flu, and hundreds of thousands more are hospitalized due to flu related illness. Even sadder, statistics illustrate that tens of thousands die from flu-related death.
Reducing risk for everyone…starting with you
An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to reduce your risk of getting sick with flu. Becoming immunized will also prevent spreading the sickness to others, particularly onto those who are more susceptible to severe flu illness such as babies, younger children, older people, and those with chronic health conditions. It is only logical that the more people who are vaccinated against influenza, the less it will spread throughout the community.
Pregnant women are also advised to get vaccinated. Contracting the flu while pregnant may result in premature labor. Thus, receiving the flu shot during pregnancy has provided effective protection for both the mother and baby up until several months after birth because the mother passes the antibodies onto her baby prior to being born.
Why do I need the flu shot every year?
There are many reasons to get vaccinated against the flu each year. Over time, the human immune system declines, so the vaccine will optimize the body’s protection. Also, the flu virus itself is ever-changing, and so therefore, the formulation of flu vaccines made available every flu season are altered to combat deviations in the virus. This is why unless a physician directs otherwise, it is recommended that everyone should be vaccinated annually.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under five (but over six months) get a flu shot. That’s because they are the ones most likely to suffer from flu- complicated illnesses if infected by the virus. Our own Dr. Janeen Miraglia gives all of her children the flu vaccine. To vaccinate or not is ultimately the decision of parents, but it is important to make an informed decision.
The bottom line
You may have heard that you can still get the flu even if you are vaccinated. This is certainly possible. However, studies have shown that the length of illness will be shorter and the severity of the case milder.
The best protection against the flu is to be vaccinated yearly, and preferably prior to the start of flu season. Why take your chances suffering from illness if you can take measures to avoid it? Hedge your bet against influenza and protect those around you as well. Make your appointment now to get your flu shot at Family First Urgent Care in either our Toms River or Oakhurst offices.
At Family First, we feel so strongly about flu vaccinations that we dedicated two segments of Your Daily Dose to influenza. You can watch them and our other medical tip videos on our Family First Urgent Care YouTube channel for more helpful advice from our physicians. Remember- at Family First, you’re family.