COLORADO SPRINGS – The first week of December is ‘National Influenza Vaccination Week.’
And believe it or not – even if you have not yet received your annual flu vaccine – it’s not too late to protect yourself for the season.
Dr. Mark Wesselman, M.D., is a primary care doctor with UCHealth Chapel Hills Primary Care. “My first recommendation for people anywhere, is to get the flu vaccination it’s the best thing you can do to prevent influenza.”
Susan Rehm, M.D., an infectious disease expert at Cleveland Clinic, said it’s wise for people to get the vaccine whenever they can, because there really is way to know for sure just how bad of a flu season it will be.
“Influenza is certainly not a minor illness by any stretch of the imagination,” she said. “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 six months and older receive a flu vaccine.
Dr. Wesselman says, “Flu season starts to peak around December or January and sometimes Feburary or March, so you should get it anytime through the season, because the protection will be there for a person who gets a flu shot.”
Dr. Rehm said a common myth surrounding flu vaccines is that a flu shot will cause a person to get the flu – but she said 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,” said Dr. Rehm. “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.”
Dr. Rehm said 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 influenza vaccine is the best thing you can do to protect yourself against influenza,” said 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 said now is a good time to get one, because it takes the body up to four weeks to develop its immune response.
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