Don’t delay flu shot any longer
If you’ve waited until now to get your flu shot, your procrastination may actually pay off, though you’d be unwise to delay getting the vaccine any longer.
Although there are some cases of flu in October and November in the United States, flu season here doesn’t usually get going full speed until December, peaking in most years in February and usually ending by April.
According to Dr. Michael T. Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, immunity induced by the flu vaccine, which is rarely greater than 60 percent to begin with, tends to wane by 20 percent a month, leaving those who got their shot in August or September with less than desirable protection by the time they’re exposed to a variant of flu virus their body doesn’t recognize.
Osterholm suggested that “since 95 percent of flu outbreaks start in midDecember, it’s best to get the flu shot in early to mid-November.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nation’s infectious disease watchdog, recommends that everyone, starting at age 6 months, get a seasonal flu shot every year. Children younger than 6 months can be protected if their mothers get a flu shot during pregnancy. Annual vaccination is especially important for people 65 and older, those with a chronic illness, pregnant women and anyone with compromised immunity, all of whom are most susceptible to serious and possibly fatal complications should they get the flu.
It’s very important that children, too, get vaccinated with the current year’s vaccine, since children are less likely to have any residual protection from prior exposure to the flu and are the leading vectors for infecting others should they get sick.
Furthermore, the flu virus is readily transmitted to others starting the day before you develop any telltale signs of the infection, which comes on very suddenly. You may be fine in the morning and feel like you’ve been hit by a truck by afternoon.