It’s a good time to get your flu vaccine

Published 10:54 am Friday, October 27, 2023

Influenza (flu) viruses typically spread in fall and winter, with activity peaking between December and February. Getting vaccinated in the fall can lower your chances of getting the flu.
Flu is a serious disease, caused by influenza viruses, that can lead to hospitalization and even death. Every flu season is different, and the substantial health impacts can vary widely from season to season, with some flu seasons being worse than others. Your best defense against influenza disease is to get a flu vaccine every year. It’s also the best way to not only protect yourself, but your family against the flu. Yet many people hesitate to receive their flu shots.
The CDC recommends that people ages six months and older get a flu vaccine by the end of October. Even if you wait until after October, the vaccine will still be beneficial and provide protection.
And, even if you do get sick after receiving a vaccine, the shot can reduce the severity of illness. “That is really what we want to do: keep people out of hospitals, living normal lives,” said Dr. H. Keipp Talbot, an associate professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Studies also suggest that the flu vaccine may help reduce community transmission – meaning that vaccinated people may be less likely to transmit the virus to others, even if they’re infected. That is why the vaccine is an effective way to protect not only yourself but also your family members and people around you who may be more susceptible to the flu, Dr. Talbot said.
Also, as flu season approaches once more, RSV cases have already occurred in some communities across the state, and COVID-19 remains an ongoing threat. For the first time, however, there are available vaccines targeting all three. And, now is the time to get the shots we need.
The Centers for Disease Control estimates 360,000 people were hospitalized with flu over the last season – and 97% of those patients were unvaccinated. Add to that the season’s death toll at about 21,000 people.
Remember, immunity from past infections and vaccines wanes over time, and the virus evolves. Getting an updated shot will help provide protection during the upcoming holiday season.
The relaxing of COVID precautions is also influencing expectations about the flu season. People are not wearing masks or keeping social distancing the way they were.
So it’s important that we take precautions, including vaccinations, to prevent having the flu and spreading the flu.
While vaccination for any or all of these viruses might not eliminate the need to stock up on tea bags and tissue for the months ahead, getting the appropriate shots at the appropriate times minimizes risk – and saves lives.

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