By: Larry Studt, M.D., Occupational Health & Medicine Program, Sacred Heart and St. Joseph Hospitals
Autumn brings two seasons: the football season and the flu shot season!
“Flu season” in the United States can begin as early as October and last as late as May. It's not possible to predict what the flu season will bring from year to year. Each flu season is different, and it can affect people differently. Your most important defense against the flu season is getting an annual flu vaccine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend all people aged 6 months and older get a flu vaccine every year. This year, the CDC recommends using the nasal spray
vaccine if available for healthy children 2 years through 8 years of age. However, if the nasal vaccine is not readily available, don't hold off on your child getting the flu shot.
Getting vaccinated against the flu is especially important for people 65 years and older. Because your immune system naturally weakens as you age, seniors are more susceptible to the flu, and at a higher risk of complications.
I have heard that people are sometimes concerned that they will get the flu if they get a flu shot. That is a common misconception. Be assured getting a flu shot will not cause you to get the flu.
In addition to getting vaccinated, take common steps to avoid the flu. Wash your hands often, especially before you eat, avoid those who are sick as much as possible, and cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing.
If you do get the flu, be sure to stay home from work or school to prevent spreading the virus to others.
To learn more, watch the “Ask the Doc” video!