Autumn brings falling leaves and cooler temperatures. But it also heralds the beginning of flu season.
Flu vaccines are more important than ever as the COVID-19 pandemic persists and brings new mutations. A flu shot keeps your immune system strong so that you and your family are less likely to get sick when you’re exposed to viruses.
Early seasonal vaccination protects your family’s health and slows the spread of the flu virus in your community. At Prudent Medical Providers — located in Federal Way and Tacoma, Washington — Sarah Phillips, DNP, APRN, and our team of medical professionals are dedicated to helping our patients stay healthy through flu season and beyond.
Following are some reasons why your children and each member of your household need a flu shot and the importance of getting it early.
An annual flu shot is the most important step you can take to protect your family against seasonal influenza. The vaccine changes each year, based on experts’ predictions of which viral strains are most likely to circulate in the coming season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends an annual flu shot for everybody except babies younger than six months, and those with life-threatening allergies to vaccine ingredients.
The flu shot is especially important for anyone who falls into a high-risk category to avoid developing serious complications if you come down with the flu. This includes children younger than the age 5 (especially those under age 2) and anyone with autoimmune disorders.
A flu shot doesn’t just protect you and your family. It also helps protect the people you and your family come into contact with each day. Vaccinated people are much less likely to catch the virus and pass it on to others, which helps control the spread of disease, especially to vulnerable members.
The exact timing and duration of the flu season vary from year to year. Typically, flu season runs from late fall to late spring, peaking between December and February.
If you and your family get vaccinated against the flu before the end of October, you have a better chance of being protected from the first day the flu hits your community. Your body needs about two weeks after you’re vaccinated to produce the antibodies that protect you from the current virus. Getting vaccinated too late leaves you vulnerable during that period.
When you’re vaccinated in early fall, you have full protection for the entire season, or about six months. It’s important to note, however, that you can get vaccinated too early, meaning — if you get a flu shot in July or August for the upcoming season, you have reduced protection for later in the season.
You may have heard about someone who says they’ve experienced flu-like symptoms after getting the vaccine. However, the flu vaccine can’t infect you with the flu virus. The vaccine is either created with dead viral material or from just a single protein of live viral material.
Dead viral material isn’t active and can’t cause illness. The single-protein vaccine is made to trigger an immune response without causing illness.
A few people experience temporary symptoms such as fatigue and mild muscle aches after receiving the live vaccine. These flu-like symptoms are minor side effects, not a sign of illness. They usually appear within one day of receiving the shot and subside soon after.
When you and your family get vaccinated against the flu in September or October, you’re protected all season long. However, if you can’t find time in your schedule until early November, it’s never too late to benefit from a flu shot. Partial seasonal protection is better than no protection.
To schedule a flu shot appointment for you and your family, contact us today at the location nearest you.