It is National Influenza Immunization Week, and I am hopeful that most everyone reading this has already had their flu vaccine….but if not, it is NOT too late! Just like the after Thanksgiving sales being extended…..your opportunity to be vaccinated has not passed! Lucky for you, there are still vaccines available. If you act quickly there may be some places having a two for one sale, a coupon for shopping after getting vaccinate or even free vaccines…no excuses, everyone in the family ( over 6 months) may be vaccinated.
All kidding aside, this is an important time to remind people that it is not too late to get your flu vaccine and as of the first week of December there has not been a significant amount of flu in the country. But with that being said, influenza typically circulates December thru February but some years flu may even last into April or May. But one thing is sure, flu is coming!!
No one is immune from the flu and the best protection is to get a flu vaccine!! I hear people tell me, “they have never had the flu before so why should I get a vaccine?”, or “ I got sick after I had the flu vaccine, so I am not getting it again”. Both of those are myths and are just a few of the anecdotes that I hear from patients and their families.
It is recommended that everyone over the age of 6 months receive a flu vaccine as it is the best protection against getting sick from the flu, and by vaccinating everyone we are also protecting those infants under 6 months that cannot yet get a flu vaccine. Infants have a higher incidence of complications from the flu ( as do children with asthma and other underlying health issues ), and those precious babies born during the late summer and into the winter depend on the community to help keep them healthy. This is especially important for infants and children in day care, as influenza is a respiratory virus that is spread when someone in close proximity has coughed or sneezed. So, check to make sure that everyone in your daycare center is vaccinated, including the parents.
Statistics show that flu vaccination activity drops off after the end of November, but it is never too late to get the vaccine. Remember, it does take about two weeks to develop immunity after being vaccinated. People also tell me, “I think I have already had the flu this year”, but even if you have, you have not had all of the strains of influenza that are in the vaccine and yes…you could get sick again. This years flu vaccine is available as a trivalent vaccine (which contains 2 type A, flu and 1flu B) and a quadrivalent vaccine ( with 2 type A and 2 B strains), and either vaccine is fine….get whatever your doctor, health department, pharmacy, grocery store, or employer has. Most children over the age of 2 years may also take the live attenuated intranasal flu vaccine ( because how many kids want a shot -right?) and it is a quadrivalent vaccine.
So now is the time to run…not walk to get your flu vaccine!! Don’t delay, put it on the top of the holiday “to do list”.