Don’t de­lay flu shot any longer

The Tribune (SLO) - - Classifieds - BY JANE E. BRODY

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.

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