The ads are everywhere. At the pharmacy. On the radio. At work. Time to get your flu shot. So why is the flu vaccine so important? “The flu is a really dangerous illness,” says Laurie Hommema, M.D., program director at the Riverside Family Practice Center. Last flu season alone, there were 3,691 flu-associated hospitalizations in Ohio, according to the Ohio Department of Health. But the flu vaccine can help protect you from the flu — especially if you get the shot early. Here are five tips and facts about this year’s flu shot and flu season.
Get your shot, unless you’re under 6 months old.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a flu shot for everyone 6 months and older. “You must be vaccinated if you are a child or you have children, if you’re elderly, or if you have underlying health issues,” Hommema says. “But it’s truly recommended that everyone’s vaccinated.” Even people with egg allergies have options, according to the CDC.
Get it early.
September and October are the best times to get your flu shot, Hommema says. But if you haven’t had a flu shot yet, it’s not too late to get one now. The flu season tends to run from October or November through as late as May, Hommema says.
No nasal spray vaccine this year.
There are concerns about how effective the nasal spray flu vaccine is, according to the CDC. So the nasal spray version isn’t recommended for the 2016-2017 flu season.
Prepare for an unpredictable flu season.
It’s hard to predict what a given flu season is going to be like. Which, Hommema says, is all the more reason to get a flu shot. “Because it’s such an unpredictable disease and can change so much, it’s very important get vaccinated,” she says.
Stay healthy — and help others do the same.
The flu shot doesn’t just help prevent influenza in the people who get the shot. It also keeps the flu from spreading. “You’re protecting the public as well when you get your flu shot,” Hommema says.
Feeling like you have the flu? Schedule an appointment with a doctor today.