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If you haven’t gotten a flu shot yet, getting one now is one of the best ways to stay healthier.

As the seasons change and temperatures drop, you may have noticed that more people you know are getting sick. While there are a variety of viruses that can cause illness at this time of year, the flu is one of the most common causes of winter misery. Other viruses that may make you sick include COVID-19, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and the common cold.

One of the most effective ways to protect yourself, and others, from getting the flu is by getting a flu shot. While health experts generally recommend that people get a flu shot in September or October, when flu season begins, it’s not too late to get a flu shot now if you haven’t already gotten one this year. Flu season starts to peak around now and often continues to spread well into the early part of the new year so a flu shot gotten now will keep you protected when you may need it most.

Here’s why getting a flu shot is one of the best ways to keep everyone healthier:

  • It makes it less likely you’ll get sick. The flu vaccine works by stimulating your immune system to produce antibodies against the flu viruses included in the vaccine. This helps your body recognize and fight the flu virus more effectively if you are exposed to it so you don’t get sick. It takes about two weeks after you get the vaccine for antibodies to develop, so the sooner you get a shot, the sooner you’ll be protected.
  • It protects you from severe illness. Even if you do contract the flu after getting the vaccine, symptoms are often milder and don’t last as long as they would if you did not get the vaccine. The flu shot significantly reduces the risk of severe complications, hospitalization and potential long-term health issues associated with the flu. That’s why it’s especially important for people who are at a greater risk of developing complications to get vaccinated.
  • It reduces the spread of the flu. Getting vaccinated doesn’t just protect you—it also helps protect those around you, especially vulnerable populations such as young children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems. When you get a flu shot, you’re less likely to get the flu and spread it to others. This helps to reduce the overall spread of the virus within the community and keeps everyone healthier.

It is recommended that everyone aged six months and older get a flu shot every year, unless there are extenuating circumstances. The vaccine is formulated to target the strains of flu that are expected to be the most prevalent during the current season. So even if you have gotten a flu shot in years past, you still should get one every year to keep yourself protected.

Don’t wait until you get sick with the flu to wish you had gotten a flu shot earlier. Make an appointment today to give yourself the best protection against getting sick from the influenza virus. Vaccines are typically available at pharmacies, doctors’ offices and other locations around your community.

“We are currently experiencing very high levels of influenza in our state.  Vaccination is the best way to prevent and minimize flu severity.  RSV, Influenza, COVID and other respiratory viruses have similar symptoms and unfortunately all of these illnesses are on the rise.  There are easy nasal swab tests to diagnose these illnesses.  We also have antiviral medications that can be prescribed if diagnosis is made early in illness that can lessen severity of disease.  Preventing spreading infection to others by staying home when ill and appropriate use of masking around others is extremely important.”

-Lara M. Falcon, MD

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Date Last Reviewed: October 16, 2023

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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