Despite the warm weather in Hampton Roads, we are officially heading in to Fall around here, which means flu shot season. While the season doesn’t peak until November, December, and January, now is the time to take a preventative step against the illness by getting a vaccine.
The CDC is recommending that people get their season flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available in their community. Following the immunization, it takes about two to four weeks for your body to build up the antibodies to protect you from influenza. By allowing your body a two to four week head-start to begin preparing for flu season, you increase the likelihood that your immune system will be able to fight off illness. Take home lesson? The earlier you get the shot, the better protected you’ll be when the season peaks in winter.
The CDC also recommends flu shots for these high-risk populations:
- Pregnant women
- Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
- People 50 years of age and older
- People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
- People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
- People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu
Over the course of the flu season, many different influenza viruses can circulate at different times and in different places. As long as flu viruses are still spreading in the community, vaccination can provide protective benefit.
Remember, the flu vaccine protects you for about 9-12 months, but it’s important to get the second immunization even if you had a shot last year. There’s no reported shortage of flu vaccines yet, and you want to boost your immunization from last year before it wanes and leaves you vulnerable.
Talk to your primary care physician about scheduling flu shots for you and your family this year!