With all the highly necessary talk about the Covid-19 vaccine, it would be easy to overlook the flu shot, which each of us should get every year, but only about half of us do.
With the coronavirus pandemic still raging, it’s more important than ever to get a flu shot this year. Then, if you do get sick, you can rule out the flu. Even if you do get the flu after receiving the shot, it’s likely to be a mild to moderate case, not the type that can knock you off your feet and send you to the hospital.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 12,000 to 60,000 people died of the flu in the U.S. each year between 2010 and 2020. That doesn’t come close to the more than 650,000 deaths caused by the coronavirus pandemic since March 2020, but it is still a heavy death toll.
Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu shot every season, with rare exceptions, according to the CDC. People with underlying health complications should be particularly vigilant about getting the vaccine. Throughout the pandemic, we have seen how those with medical conditions are far more likely to succumb to a virus.
September and October are the best time to be vaccinated against the flu, the CDC says. Ideally, everyone should be vaccinated by the end of October.
Flu vaccines are offered in many doctors’ offices and clinics, as well as at many pharmacies and urgent-care centers.
You need a flu vaccine every year for two reasons. First, your immunity protection from vaccination declines over time, so an annual inoculation is needed for optimal protection, according to the CDC. Second, flu viruses are constantly changing. The composition of flu vaccines is reviewed annually by CDC officials, and is updated to protect against the viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming flu season.
It takes about two weeks after your shot for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against influenza virus infection. That’s why it’s best to get vaccinated before flu viruses start to spread in your community.