Like it or not, flu season is here. But you don’t have to suffer the aches, pains, fever and coughs. While thorough hand washing and a healthy lifestyle help, nothing is more effective at preventing influenza than a vaccination.
Shots are no fun, but getting the flu for a week is a lot worse.
“Influenza comes with a sudden onset of high fever, dry cough, body aches and headaches. You feel good in the morning and come noon you feel horrible. It attacks pretty quickly,” said Robin Samyn, M.D., family medicine physician at Beaumont.
There are many, many questions about the influenza vaccine, but don’t let that stop you from being protected.
When is the best time to get your flu shot? Who should get one? What about all the things we hear about the flu shot?
Let’s answer these questions:
The best time of year to get a flu shot is the end of September or early October.
“The recommended time-frame is to get it before flu season starts,” explains Dr. Samyn. “In the northern hemisphere, flu season is November through March or April. But realize it takes a few weeks before those antibodies really build up in your body. But, once you get vaccinated, you have good antibody coverage for about six months. The flu virus mutates really quickly, so it’s hard to have the same vaccine be effective every year. It’s always mutating, so we’re always updating your vaccine. That’s why you need to get it annually.”
Are you one of the many who should get an influenza vaccination? Chances are, yes.
“Everyone six months and older should be vaccinated,” says Dr. Samyn. “Pregnant patients are especially susceptible to the flu. The biggest thing people don’t realize, is women who get influenza while pregnant risk themselves and the baby. Additionally, anyone taking care of an infant under six months should be vaccinated.”
Don’t forget about school-age kids, too. They are a particularly vulnerable group to influenza.
"They may go to school sick, spread infection to others quickly, and then these newly infected kids spread the influenza virus to adults and others at home," adds Dr. Samyn.
And what about all those other things you’ve heard - about mercury, egg allergies, the vaccine makes you sick and more. All those concerns can be put to rest. As the flu has mutated so has the vaccine evolved. It can be received safely, without concern.
Dr. Samyn's most important take-away is this that it's not too late, ever, to be vaccinated. Even if one of your close contacts gets influenza, it’s not too late for you to be vaccinated."