It’s not too late to get your flu shot

Published 9:03 am Friday, December 29, 2023

Though the best time to get your flu shot is typically between September and October, the second-best time to get vaccinated is now, according to East Tennessee State University’s Dr. Randy Wykoff, dean of the ETSU College of Public Health.
That’s because flu season, which traditionally begins to pick up in early fall, often reaches its peak between December and February.
“Getting the shot now is beneficial,” said Wykoff. “In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend getting it as long as there is circulating flu, and in some years that goes into May.”
It takes about two weeks for enough antibodies to develop from the shot, underscoring the importance of getting it as soon as you can, if you haven’t already. During the last flu season (late 2022 to early 2023), the CDC estimated that more than 30 million people fell ill with the flu, leading to 360,000 hospitalizations.
“Flu can be really, really serious, and that’s especially unfortunate when we have a vaccine that can help prevent serious disease,” said Wykoff.
Of course, getting the shot is just one part of keeping yourself safe during flu season. Handwashing, covering your mouth when you cough, wearing a face mask and staying home when you’re sick can all be effective ways to help stop the spread of illness. Wykoff also recommended testing yourself for COVID-19 if you’re feeling ill.
Dr. T.J. Mitchell, an internal medicine physician with ETSU Health, said he’s seen an uptick in flu cases in the community, and that he’s seen more circulation of the virus this year than in recent years.
“The best thing you can do to help protect yourself and others is to get vaccinated,” Mitchell said. “Vaccines can help prevent you from getting sick, or make your illness milder, and help stop the spread of illness. Make sure to wash your hands frequently and disinfect and clean surfaces in your home or at work that are frequently touched or come into contact with others.”
Flu shots are still available at ETSU Health’s primary care clinics, including family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics and obstetrics.

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