When should I get vaccinated?
The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease. While there are many different flu viruses, the seasonal flu vaccine is designed to protect against the top three or four flu viruses that research indicates will cause the most illness during the flu season. There are hundreds of varieties of influenza virus out there. Manufacturers of the vaccine begin developing vaccine months before the flu season, and they target the strains of flu that are prevalent at the time they begin the process. This is why sometimes, our flu vaccine isn’t very good at preventing us from getting the flu. Last year’s vaccine didn’t stop a lot of the varieties of flu that arrived. However, the CDC is predicting that this year, the vaccine will be targeted more specifically, and that it should keep most of us from getting the flu. People should begin getting vaccinated ideally in October, to ensure that as many people as possible are protected before flu season begins. The season can run from early fall to late spring, but usually is at its height in mid-winter.
In addition to getting vaccinated, you can take everyday preventive steps like staying away from sick people and washing your hands to reduce the spread of germs. If you are sick with flu, stay home from work or school to prevent spreading flu to others.
Even if you think that you will be better off without vaccine, you need to remember that you can become ill and spread the virus (before you even know you are sick) to someone who’s immune system isn’t strong. Safeguarding them from flu is especially important. Some of the people who are at high risk for serious flu-related complications are the following:
People with asthma, diabetes, heart disease and those who have had a stroke. Adults who are over 65, pregnant women or people who have HIV or AIDS, people who have cancer and children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old.
For these groups of people, sometimes the flu that you can easily fight off can be devastating for them. This is part of the reason why we invite everyone to get their vaccine.