Typically the flu season spikes in the winter months of January and February. Yet, that does not mean it is a good idea to put off getting your flu shot until then. An estimated 180 million doses of the flu vaccine have been produced this year, protecting against three of the four strains of the flu the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts will be the most prevalent. That may sound like a lot flu shots and nasal sprays, but supplies may run low towards the end of the flu season. It takes about two to three weeks to build up antibodies to protect you from exposure to the influenza virus and every year reports of the flu start popping up in October – a mere two weeks away. “I could not be more emphatic of the importance of the Influenza vaccine for everybody, starting at six months of age, every year,” adds Lovelace Medical Group pediatrician Dr. Felipe Zanghellini. “Influenza can be a very severe or potentially deadly disease.”
Depending on the severity of the outbreak of flu each season, anywhere from 4,000 to 50,000 people will die from the flu. It is the deadliest infectious disease Dr. Zanghellini says. “The best way to protect yourself and your family is the Influenza vaccine,” says Dr. Zanghellini. Waiting until the start or peak of flu season increases your risk of exposure and takes away time to prepare your immune system. The flu vaccine is now available at all Lovelace Pharmacies. Click here for a location near you.
“Especially now that we are seeing cases of Enterovirus D68 in the midwest, now is the time to get the flu shot,” adds Dr. Zanghellini. “One good way to be able to differentiate between both diseases is to get yourself and your family vaccinated. Both viruses can cause similar symptoms. The best time to get the vaccine is in the fall, so by the time the winter starts you have already protective antibodies.
In addition to getting a flu shot, health care providers agree you must take extra precautions to help reduce the spread of the flu by washing your hands frequently and avoiding people who are sick. If you are sick, it is best to stay home from work.
The elderly, pregnant women and babies are the most susceptible to develop serious complications from the flu. Check with your elderly loved ones and neighbors to make sure they have arrangements to get a flu shot this season. Also, all pregnant women regardless of where they are in their pregnancy are advised to get a flu shot, which will protect their baby even after birth. Pregnancy, which is already taxing on the heart, lungs and immune system, increases the risk of hospitalization with the flu and may even be fatal for mom and baby.
Anyone six months or older and especially those with chronic medical conditions should get a flu shot before flu season hits. Conditions include:
Cancer or cancer treatment
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Kidney or liver disease
No appointment is needed to receive the flu vaccine at one of our 11 Lovelace Pharmacies. Please come by between regular business hours, Monday thru Friday, 8:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. All major insurance plans are accepted and flu shots are covered by most insurance plans. The cost for uninsured flu shots is $29.