Seasonal influenza, which is more commonly known as the flu, can lead to hospitalizations for serious complications. Getting a flu vaccine offers protection from this illness, but how effective is it? Keep the following information in mind, especially if you have not had your flu shot yet.
Flu Season Timeframe
Flu season can vary in length from year to year. However, it typically runs from October through March or April. In some years, flu season has even run through May. The flu tends to be at its highest rate between December and February. You can get the flu at any time during the year, though. Flu season refers to when this illness tends to be high.
Flu Vaccine Contents
Getting a flu vaccine does not automatically protect you from every flu strain that’s out there. Scientists study flu strains based on flu viruses that are currently around in order to determine the type of vaccine that is needed. The specific flu strains that go around vary from year to year, which is why you need to get a flu vaccine every year. Even though the vaccine cannot protect you from all flu strains, it can reduce your risk of getting the flu in general by 30 to 60 percent.
Risk Factors for the Flu
Certain individuals have a higher risk of having severe complications from the flu, such as pneumonia. Those who have this increased risk include young children, especially those who are too young to get a flu vaccine. Elderly individuals, pregnant women, individuals with weakened immune systems, and those who work in the healthcare field all face a higher risk of the flu.
Flu Vaccine Recommendations
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all individuals who are at least six months old get a flu vaccine every year. Having a higher number of people get the vaccine helps protect more vulnerable individuals who cannot be vaccinated and those who are at risk of serious complications.
When should you get your flu shot? Ideally, you should receive this vaccination by the end of October during the flu season. Keep in mind that it takes the flu shot about two weeks to become fully effective. Your body creates antibodies to protect you from the flu during this time. Those who do not get a flu shot by the end of October can still get one. In fact, getting a flu shot at any time during the flu season provides you with some protection from this illness.
Getting your flu shot is one way to lower your risk of having the flu. You can make this risk even lower by washing your hands with soap and hot water. Keeping your hands away from your face and avoiding contact with anyone who is sick can also help.
If you haven’t had your flu vaccine yet, stop by PrimeCare Urgent Care today.