Even before summer fades to fall, doctors and public health workers agree now is the time for a flu shot.
“The recommendation is different this year,” Dr. John Cecil of Lourdes RediCare said. “With this year’s vaccine, the recommendation is to get it early and be good for the entire flu seasons. In the past, some literature indicated a vaccine might wane in three months, so the best time for a shot was November. We see the most flu cases in January and February.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm warns flu season may start as early as October. The CDC suggests all wanting a shot be vaccinated by December to enjoy maximum immunity during the peak flu season.
“There is no real science showing a mid-season booster gives any benefit,” Cecil said. “The CDC and health departments say no. I would say if you see people getting the flu that have had a flu shot, you might think about getting a second shot.”
Cecil recommended the shot for everyone except those with allergies to components within the shot. He especially recommended it for patients with bronchitis, chronic obstructed pulmonary disease, smokers, patients with asthma, those with immune problems, the elderly and children.
Charlie Ross, executive director of the Purchase District Health Department, said county health departments have a good supply of vaccine. Health departments will offer shots by appointment. Larger clinics in communities will be scheduled beginning in September.
“Our message is, ‘Get your flu shot,’” Ross said. “Call your health center or another provider like your primary care office, a pharmacy or a ready care office.”
Ross said the early delivery of vaccine and warm weather means few people have taken advantage of flu shots. He expects to see more when the weather cools.
“I always hear patients say they’re worried they will get the flu from a flu shot,” Cecil said. “It’s an inactivated virus vaccine. There is nothing a person could do to get the flu from the shot.”
The CDC advises patients that vaccine side effects may include soreness, a low grade fever and aches. The website said the side effects may last a day or two, while the majority of people receiving vaccines have no side effects at all.