Is it too late for a flu shot? Your flu shot questions answered

Thursday, December 08, 2016

flu-shot

Haven’t found the time to get a flu shot this year? Flu season is well under way, and many questions certainly come with it. Protect yourself during this year’s flu season by knowing the answers to these common questions about the flu shot:

When is it too late to get a flu shot?

While many choose to get vaccinated early in the fall when flu season begins, vaccinations can be protective as long as flu viruses are circulating. Since flu viruses can circulate well into May, it is still not too late to get a flu shot.

Should I get a flu shot if I already got the flu this year?

Even if you’re certain you already had the flu, this year’s flu vaccine can protect against three or four strains of the virus. So even if you think you already had the flu, getting a flu shot will lower your risk of getting sick from the other strains.

“You cannot get the flu from the vaccine itself,” reminds Bernice Sessa, M.D., emergency medicine physician, Beaumont Hospital, Troy and medical director of Beaumont Urgent Care - West Bloomfield. “Sometimes you can get the flu even if you already got the vaccine because you may have caught the flu of a different strain. The difference is that you would get a much milder case and recover more quickly.”

Who should get the flu vaccine?

According to the CDC, getting an annual flu vaccine is the first and best way to protect against the flu. The CDC recommends the annual vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older to protect against flu viruses. While children less than 6 months of age are too young to be vaccinated, those who care for them should be vaccinated.

Should I get a flu shot if I’m currently sick?

No, those with a moderate-to-severe illness with or without a fever should not get the flu shot. Once you have completely recovered from your illness, you can then get vaccinated to protect yourself from the other strains of the flu.   

Where can I get a flu shot?

The flu shot is available in doctor’s offices, clinics, urgent cares and many drugstores and pharmacies.

How else can I prevent the flu?

In addition to getting a flu shot, the CDC also recommends to avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth and to avoid close contact with people who are sick. You should also be sure to wash your hands often.

If you haven’t gotten a flu shot this year, take the necessary steps to protect yourself and those around you during the flu season - like getting a flu shot and staying home if you are sick.

Dr. Sessa adds, “It’s important to protect others from the flu if you think you have it. It’s easily spread by air so be considerate and always cover your mouth and nose with the inside of your elbow when you cough or sneeze.”

Be sure to talk to your doctor about any questions you might have.