When should I get my flu shot?
For most of the country, it barely feels like summer has left the building, but cooler temps inevitably lead to that nagging cough, itchy throat and the dreaded aches and pains of flu season. It may seem early, but the US Centers for Disease Control and prevention recommends that you get your flu shot before the end of October so you’re best equipped to fight one of the most common, yet most debilitating illnesses around.
The 2018 flu season was one of the most devastating in nearly a decade, with more than 700,000 hospitalized in the US for flu symptoms. Knowing the difference between a common cold and the flu could very literally have life-saving consequences. And early indicators seem to suggest the 2019 flu season could be equally, if not more, dangerous. Based on a particularly bad flu season this year in Australia, and flu cases in California already resulting in deaths, experts indicate the earlier you get your flu shot, the better for everyone.
And although the flu is possible to prepare for, it’s almost impossible to predict, which is precisely why identifying flu symptoms as early as possible is critical to treating the disease effectively. Recognizing the telltale symptoms of the flu will allow you to seek medical treatment as soon as possible and within the time window when antiviral medication is most efficacious.
It’s also important to note how quickly the flu becomes contagious, and for how long. Experts say that the flu can even become contagious BEFORE you start to feel symptoms and for at least 5-7 days after symptoms present themselves. This is yet another reason the flu shot is such an important preventative measure during flu season. And while some may have concerns about the potential negative effects of vaccination, the overwhelming consensus among the medical community is that the benefits of the flu shot far outweigh any perceived negative outcomes.
We all interact with dozens and dozens of people each day, including many of the people we love the most. The best way to ensure the health of those around us is to educate ourselves about the flu, the best ways to prevent it, what warning signs indicate we have it, and how best to get rid of it once we do have it.
Remember, if you get to Halloween and you haven’t yet gotten your flu shot, you should definitely be a little spooked. The trick is to treat as quickly as possible.