Influenza season is almost upon us. That means it’s time to get your flu shot, if you haven’t done so already. Flu vaccine prevents tens of thousands of hospitalizations each year. For example, during 2018–2019 flu vaccination prevented an estimated 58,000 flu-related hospitalizations in the United States.
Getting vaccinated yourself may also protect people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like babies and young children, older people, and people with certain chronic health conditions.
When asked about flu and Covid 19 circulating at the same time, Dr. Howard Feldfogel of Highland Medical P.C., Clarkstown Medical Associates said, “It is more essential this year than ever to receive your flu vaccine. Both COVID 19 infection and influenza infection can produce similar symptoms. One can increase protection from the influenza infection by receiving the flu vaccine. Thereby helping both yourself and others around you. Please get your vaccine today.”
Here’s the latest recommendations about the flu shot from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
Q: Who should get a flu shot?
A: CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older with rare exceptions.
Q: When should I get it?
A: You should get a flu vaccine before flu viruses begin spreading, since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against flu. CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October.
Q: Why do I need a flu vaccine every year?
A: A flu vaccine is needed every season for two reasons. First, a person’s immune protection from vaccination declines over time, so an annual vaccine is needed for optimal protection. Second, because flu viruses are constantly changing, flu vaccines may be updated from one season to the next to protect against the viruses that research suggests may be most common during the upcoming flu season.
Q: Do older adults get a different flu shot, and what’s the age range for that?
A: Anyone over the age of 65 should be getting the high-dose flu vaccine, which gives added protection.
Q: Should I ask whether I’m getting a flu shot with three flu strains or four—and how much of a difference does it make?
A: Quadrivalent vaccine (four strains) offers additional protection. The CDC recommends either one.
Q: Can a flu vaccine give you flu?
A: No, flu vaccines cannot cause flu illness. Flu vaccines given with a needle (i.e., flu shots) are made with either inactivated (killed) viruses, or with only a single protein from the flu virus. The nasal spray vaccine contains live viruses that are weakened, so that they will not cause illness.
Please call your primary care office to find out how you can make an appointment for a flu shot or get vaccinated at an upcoming appointment.