Updated February 17, 9:49 AM CT
Best Time to Get the Flu Shot
It may seem early, but Fall is the best time to get your flu shot. Yes, true flu season gears up in the middle of fall and onset of winter, but the time for vaccinations is now.
The best method for preventing an influenza infection or illness is to be vaccinated against it, and it’s best to get it as soon as the vaccine becomes available - generally late summer or early fall.
The vaccine is so effective because the formula produces antibodies specific to influenza viruses that bind the virus and prevent it from infecting you. It also helps eliminate the virus from your system should you catch it.
Assuming the virus you contract is a strain the vaccine covers, the shot is about 40 to 60 percent effective, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
If you’re needle shy, the influenza vaccine is now approved to be distributed via a nasal mist.
Since the nasal spray didn’t work well against the H1N1 strain, it wasn’t recommended for the past few years, causing some confusion over how helpful it was.
When it comes to healthy adults under 50, the shot is just as good as the spray this year. And despite what you may have heard, that includes children.
The nasal spray has a few potential side effects. It’s a live vaccine, so it can give you side effects such as fever, runny nose, wheezing, or a headache, and shouldn’t be used by people with a compromised immune system (that includes folks over 50). Most healthy people are fine taking the mist.
Get vaccinated as soon as it becomes available, which is generally late summer or early fall—at least by the end of October. Check with your doctor’s office, pharmacy, or the CDC's website.
Sooner is better, because it takes about two weeks for your body to produce the antibodies required to protect you against the virus. While getting your flu shot or spray ASAP should be the first priority in prevention, also remember to wash your hands frequently to reduce the spread of germs throughout fall and winter. If you do get sick, stay home from work to prevent spreading the virus, and take an anti-flu medication within the first 48 hours of onset.
Ran DeBord ~ All Access Sporting News
Sources for this article include: Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, MensHealth, AASNSports
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