If you've ever had the flu, you know it's usually more severe and uncomfortable than a cold. And honestly, the symptoms can feel like you're hit by a truck. But taking flu prevention seriously is much more than just nasty, nasty symptoms – it's also about keeping those around you who might not be able to fight the flu just as a healthy person can be saved from potential life.
The virus can be super dangerous, especially for young and old. "People can go out of work for a week or two and get pneumonia or other serious illnesses, such as ear infections and bronchitis," he says. Greg Poland, MD, director of the Mayo Vaccine Research Group in Rochester, Minnesota.
However, most of the time, people ended up with the flu because they didn't get the vaccine, or because they waited too long and caught it before they were properly protected. This year, avoid making that rookie mistake, knowing * exactly * when to get your vaccine. This way you will help keep yourself – and those around you – safe from miserable illness and potentially serious infection.
Let's get it right: When's the best time to get the flu?
"The best time to get your flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available," Dr. Poland says. And it's available much sooner than you might think. Occasionally, you can get the vaccine in late August, but more often it falls into pharmacies and doctors, in mid-September or early October.
While it may seem alarmist to plan your flu (or nasal spray) ASAP, it can really save you from a terrible few weeks or even a serious illness that sends you to the hospital. "I've seen a lot of disasters in people who think they can end in time," Dr. Poland says. "People either forget to get the vaccine or delay it. Then they see that their neighbors and co-workers are sick and decide it's time. But then, it might be too late."
How does the flu work?
Tells the flu vaccine two weeks to cover and build antibody antibodies in your body Keri Peterson, MD, a doctor of internal medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and a medical advisor to Women's Health. This means that you are not protected against the virus for a full 14 days after you received the shot. So your neighbors infected with the flu could already get the flu and your vaccine won't do anything to prevent you from getting sick.
However, that doesn't mean you have to leave the vaccine altogether if you feel like you're getting it late in the season. It could still protect you, and will probably last up to six months.
"Some people think that if they don't get it on Thanksgiving, it's too late," says Dr. Poland. But this is far from the truth. Dr. Peterson still manages flu shots in her office well into March. And as long as the supply of your pharmacy or doctor has not yet run out, you can still get the flu.
True, it's never too early or too late to get your vaccination, but getting the shot as soon as you can means you'll be protected for more than the season. "Most influenza outbreaks in the United States occur between February and March," Dr. Poland says, so getting a vaccine after the holidays is not worth it at all.
Who should get the flu shot?
Everyone older than six months should get their flu – this includes pregnant women. "Especially pregnant women, "Dr. Poland says." The flu vaccine will help protect their developing baby. "
Can I get the flu after I get the vaccine?
Even if you get the vaccine, it is not 100 percent effective, and there is no guarantee that it will not prevent you from getting the flu. This is because the virus is "extraordinarily promising," according to Dr. Poland. LOL. It is constantly changing and changing, which means that the vaccine you receive could protect you against four different strains of the flu, but if you find a fifth strain, you could still get sick.
For example, "In 2000, we had exactly the right combination of influenza strains in the vaccine," Dr. Poland says. "Out of nowhere, in November, a new strain emerged, and people had no protection."
However, some protection is better than none. With so many different types of flu virus out there, it's best to protect against as many as possible.
When is the flu season in 2019?
This year, you can expect the flu season to hit around the same time as most other years, according to the CDC. The flu is unpredictable, but it typically thrives in the colder months. "When the thermometer drops, that's when you can expect flu season to start," Dr. Peterson says.
So, * now * is the perfect time to put a reminder on your calendar to stop at your pharmacy and get the flu, for your own health and the health of everyone around you.