Didn’t Get Your Flu Shot Yet? It’s Not Too Late
Think it’s too late to get your flu shot this year? Think again. Here’s why you should still get vaccinated to protect you — and those around you — this season.
We all know the old English proverb: “It’s better late than never.” But believe it or not, the saying does hold true when it comes to your annual flu shot.
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Infectious disease expert Susan Rehm, MD, says it’s wise for people to get the vaccine whenever they can because there’s really no way to know for sure what type of flu season is ahead.
“Influenza is certainly not a minor illness by any stretch of the imagination,” Dr. Rehm says. “We don’t know whether the flu season will be good or bad this year. We do know that the flu is predictably unpredictable. We don’t know exactly when it’s going to hit, we don’t know how hard it’s going to be.”
Earlier this year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the flu was responsible for as many as 80,000 deaths last winter.
The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older receive a flu vaccine.
A common myth surrounding flu vaccines is that a flu shot will cause you to get the flu – but Dr. Rehm says this simply isn’t true.
“You can’t get the flu from the flu vaccine — that’s really the number one myth that’s still out there,” she says. “Sometimes people feel a little achy for a day or two afterwards. Some people may even have a low grade fever, but that’s not influenza. That’s the body making antibodies, getting strong and getting ready to fight off the flu.”
Getting the flu vaccine serves a dual purpose — protecting yourself and others in the community — especially those who are vulnerable from suffering flu complications.
“Getting the influenza vaccine is the best thing you can do to protect yourself against influenza,” says Dr. Rehm. “And perhaps, more importantly in some settings, is the fact that the more people who get vaccinated, the less flu spreads around.”
For those who haven’t already received a flu shot, Dr. Rehm says now is a good time to get one because it takes the body up to four weeks to develop its immune response.
Flu activity typically begins to peak in January, which is just around the corner, she notes.