Each year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) closely monitor flu patterns within the general population. Why? So they can work to develop the most effective vaccine possible for this year’s flu season.
Annual flu shots are important for so many reasons, from reducing your risk of getting sick to saving lives. In fact, according to the CDC, vaccinations helped prevent an estimated 4.4 million illnesses in the United States during the 2018-2019 season. Flu shots also helped prevent 2.3 million influenza-related medical visits, 58,000 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths during that same season.
But the 2020-2021 flu season is different. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect our communities. And with the recommendation of your physician, getting the flu vaccine is even more important.
When is the best time to get a flu shot? The earlier the better – preferably before flu season begins. But late protection is better than no protection at all. While flu cases usually start ramping up in November and December, flu season can begin as early as October and last as late as May.
When it comes to protecting against the flu, the CDC sets vaccine recommendations for everyone 6 months of age and older. Depending on your age, there are some specific vaccination recommendations, options and in some cases, requirements. Also, if you have any severe, life-threatening allergies or you’ve had an allergic reaction to a previous flu shot or other immunization, talk with a doctor about your vaccination options.
How long does it take for the vaccine to be effective? It takes approximately two weeks for your immune system to be fully prepared. Your immune system must build enough antibodies, which simply takes time. Unfortunately, if you’re exposed to flu viruses before your shot or within the two weeks following, you can still get sick. This is another reason why we recommend that you get your flu shot early.
While COVID-19 symptoms and flu symptoms can be similar, these two illnesses are caused by different viruses. That means a flu shot will not protect you against COVID-19. But it is possible for you to be infected by both viruses at the same time – which can lead to serious complications. By getting a flu shot you can reduce your overall health risks this season and get some peace of mind.
When you get a flu shot, you’re not only protecting yourself from the flu but those around you too. So, what are you waiting for? Make an appointment to get your flu vaccine today.