When is the best time to get a flu shot, and why is it so important?
By David Martin, President and CEO of VeinInnovations
It’s that time of year again. Christmas music seems to have taken over every airwave, from the radio to any and every store you enter. But the joy of the season is often accompanied by sniffles and sneezes. December is the beginning of peak flu season. Have you been vaccinated yet? If you haven’t gotten a flu vaccination already, early December is the time to do it.
Get Vaccinated for Flu
Flu season starts in October and continues into May. Ideally, everyone who could get a flu shot would get a flu shot by October. In reality, less than half of Americans get vaccinated.
After vaccination, it takes two weeks for your body to develop the antibodies to protect it against flu. So don’t wait! If you can get the vaccination, get it today. Shots are widely available. If you’re not sure where to go, use this Flu Vaccine Finder from flu.gov.
Who Needs to Get Vaccinated?
Everyone that can get vaccinated should be vaccinated. The flu is no joke. Flu causes 36,000 deaths every year. Another 200,000 people are hospitalized.
If you’re wavering on whether or not to get the vaccine, consider who you’re in close contact with. Some people are more likely to get the flu and experience potentially deadly complications from flu. At risk populations include:
- Young children
- Pregnant women
- People with disabilities
- People with health conditions, like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer
How Can You Help Prevent the Flu from Spreading?
The vaccine protects against the three strains of flu – those predicted by research to be the most common that year. So remember, the vaccine isn’t a guarantee you’ll avoid getting sick.
To help avoid getting, or giving, the flu, be conscientious about hand washing and covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. If you get the flu, stay home! You need rest and fluids. You’ll wear yourself out and expose other people to illness if you don’t take a break. So do yourself, and everyone else a favor: sleep in and stay in!
Why Are There More Colds and Flu in the Winter?
Despite generations of folklore that says otherwise, cold weather doesn’t cause cold and flu. If you’re worried about the kids catching a cold from playing outdoors too long, don’t. The culprit behind the increase in cold and flu is our behavior in winter. We’re chilly, so we stay indoors with friends and family.
Cooped up inside, we’re breathing recycled air and sharing germs with one another in close quarters. Another possibility for the rise of illness in the winter is our own dry mucosa. Mucosa lines the back of your throat, sinuses, and trachea. In cold, dry conditions, the mucosa gets drier and more susceptible to viruses.
Our immunity may not be as robust, either. Exercise is an immune system booster, but a lot of us neglect it when it’s too chilly. So don’t worry too much about sending the kids (and yourself) outside in winter. You may all be better off for spending some time with Jack Frost!