Did you get your flu shot yet?
It’s not too early! Although the flu usually peaks around January and February, it can start as early as…now. And if you get the shot now, you’ll be protected for the season.
I’m assuming you do get a flu vaccine.
I recently wrote an article about flu shots and my research taught me a lot I didn’t know. And it’s possible you don’t know these things either. I’m anxious to share some important facts:
1. This year, there’s a new version of flu vaccine. It’s called the Standard Four-Strain Vaccine (or Quadrivalent) and protects against four strains rather than the usual three (an extra B strain has been added) and may give broader protection. Whether or not that’s true can only be known after the fact, but predictions are that it will – and that all future vaccines will be of this type.
But if you can’t find it (supplies are more limited than the standard three-strain vaccine), the standard vaccine is fine. The CDC is not recommending one over the other; the important thing is to get vaccinated.
2. Everyone over 6 months of age should get vaccinated against the flu. People can and do die from flu complications – while it varies according to the severity of the outbreak, the CDC estimates deaths to be anywhere between a low of 3,000 to a high of 49,000 each year.
3. You cannot “catch” the flu from getting a shot. The vaccine takes about two weeks to kick in – so if you get sick during that time, it’s likely whatever you had was brewing before you got the shot.
4. No one is immune to the flu. Some people think since they’ve never had the flu, they have a natural immunity and don’t need to be vaccinated. But they just haven’t had the flu…yet. Or, it’s possible they had a very mild version of it and never knew.
5. If you’re afraid of needles, there is a nasal version of the vaccine – but that’s only for people between the ages of 2 and 49.
6. If you’re afraid of needles and older than 49, there’s still an option (no, it’s not to skip the shot!). A new version uses a needle that is 90% smaller than those normally used. And, this ouch-free vaccine is injected into the skin rather than the muscle, further reducing the pain factor. (It’s not that painful, trust me. I just had mine the other day and I barely winced. But then again, some people might call me a trouper.)
7. If you’re 65 or older, there’s a high-dose vaccine that revs up your immune system, which naturally decreases with age, making it more likely you’ll get better coverage than with a standard-dose vaccine.
Did you get it yet? Are you planning to go?