Flu vaccine: Your best shot for avoiding influenza
Getting a flu shot often protects you from coming down with the flu. And although the flu shot doesn't always provide total protection, the experts at the CDC and Mayo Clinic say that it's definitely worth getting.
This year's annual flu shot will offer protection against three or four of the influenza viruses expected to be in circulation this flu season. A high-dose flu vaccine as well as an additional vaccine also will be available for adults age 65 and older.
Influenza is a respiratory infection that can cause serious complications, particularly in young children, older adults and people with certain medical conditions. Getting an influenza vaccine — though not 100% effective — is the best way to prevent the misery of the flu and its complications. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends annual flu vaccination for everyone age 6 months or older.
Here are the answers to three of the most common questions about flu shots:
(1) When is the flu vaccine available and when should I get it?
Private manufacturers make the flu vaccine and take about six months to produce it. Health care providers begin vaccinating people as soon as the flu vaccine is available in their areas.
It takes up to two weeks to build immunity after a flu shot, but you can benefit from the vaccine even if you don't get it until after the flu season starts. It's usually best for people in the United States to get their flu vaccine in September and October; however, you can still protect yourself against late flu outbreaks if you get the vaccine in February or later.
(2) Why do I need to get vaccinated every year?
Because flu viruses evolve so quickly, last year's vaccine may not protect you from this year's viruses. New flu vaccines are released every year to keep up with rapidly adapting flu viruses.
When you get vaccinated, your immune system produces antibodies to protect you from the viruses included in the vaccine. But antibody levels may decline over time so this is another reason to get a flu shot every year.
(3) Who should get the flu vaccine?
The CDC recommends annual influenza vaccinations for everyone age 6 months or older. Vaccination is especially important for people at high risk of influenza complications, including older adults and especially if you have a chronic condition.
For a listing of where flu shots area available in our community, please contact: [Madison Senior Center, 608-266-8650 or www.madisonseniorcenter.org]
Adapted from materials from Mayo Clinic website.