The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that getting an annual flu vaccine is the first and best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu. Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations.
The CDC also mentions that a few things are new this flu season:
- Only injectable flu shots are recommended for use this season. The nasal spray vaccine isnot recommended for use during the 2016-2017 season because of concerns about its effectiveness.
- Flu vaccines have been updated to better match circulating viruses.
- The recommendations for vaccination of people with egg allergies have changed. People who have experienced only hives after exposure to egg can get any licensed flu vaccine that is otherwise appropriate for their age and health. But people who have symptoms other than hives after exposure to eggs, or who have needed epinephrine or another emergency medical intervention, also can get any licensed flu vaccine, but the vaccine should be given in a medical setting and be supervised by a health care provider who is able to recognize and manage severe allergic conditions.
Many people ask how long does the “flu season” last. “The cold and flu season really begins when school starts in September, and continues all the way through the spring season,” said Dr. David Topham, professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Rochester.
Vaccination is especially important for people at high risk for developing flu-related complications, and their close contacts. Groups at high risk include: children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old; adults 65 years of age and older; pregnant women (and women up to two weeks postpartum); and residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
In addition to getting a seasonal flu vaccine, you can take everyday preventive actions like staying away from sick people and washing your hands more regularly to reduce the spread of germs. If you are sick with flu, it is very important that you stay home from work or school to prevent spreading flu to others. Unnecessary exertion may tire you out and prevent you from getting better. And if your kids come down with the flu, don’t let them go to daycare or school.
And to dispel a long held myth: the flu shot does not give you the flu. However, people tend to get their flu shots as the flu season begins, and many of those people are bound to get cold viruses, or possibly even the flu itself, shortly after getting the vaccine. This can confirm the misguided idea that the vaccine can cause illness, but it is most likely to just cause soreness at the site of the injection.
So…when are you getting your flu shot?