“Flu season” in the United States can begin as early as October and last as late as May. The ‘flu’ or influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different and the influenza can affect people differently. Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu. It’s highly contagious, so anyone who does get it will spread it if precautions are not taken. Over a period of 31 seasons from 2007 going back to 1976, the estimated deaths in the United States alone vary considerably from 3,000 to 49,000. The reason for the variance is due to language written on the death certificate but if we were to just go by the lower number, that’s a total of one hundred people per year who have died from the flu. Many flu related deaths occur in people 65 years and older, those with low immune systems or babies who have yet to build up their immune system.
Who then, should get the flu vaccine? Per the CDC, everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season. Vaccination to prevent influenza is particularly important for people who are at high risk of serious complications from the flu. See People at High Risk of Developing Flu-Related Complications for a full list.
When should I get a flu shot? It is recommended to get a shot as soon as they become available, if possible, by October. It takes about two weeks after a vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body that protect against the influenza virus infection, so it’s best to get vaccinated before the ‘flu’ begins spreading in your community.
The best prevention of any spread of germs or disease is sanitation and good hygiene however, there is still no guarantee. So talk to your medical provider to determine if you are a good candidate for a flu vaccination, if so, consider what could happen if you choose not to. Thankfully there is plenty of material that can be found online regarding this subject that will allow us to make an informed decision that is right for each of us.