As we enter the colorful transition of summer to fall, many of us are excited about the abundance of pumpkin-themed food items and the opportunities for hayrides and oversized sweaters. With all the goodness Autumn brings, it’s easy to overlook the fact that along with the change in seasons comes the onset of flu season.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend a flu vaccine for individuals six months and older (and pregnant women), optimally, by the end of October. Flu vaccines are offered in many locations, including doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, pharmacies, and even in many schools or on-site through employer wellness initiatives. As a healthcare provider, I typically encourage patients to get the vaccine at their doctor’s office because the vaccination will be properly documented in their healthcare files. Although, getting a flu shot at a pharmacy is certainly convenient, the records of the vaccination are very rarely communicated to family doctors. That being said, getting a flu shot in any location is much better than not getting a flu shot at all, and primary care doctors’ offices can be notified so health records can be kept up to date.
Many people don’t realize it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to integrate into our immune systems to provide appropriate protection, so I encourage vaccinations in late August or early September. It’s important to note that the flu shot is not a silver bullet to prevent against getting sick each year. Simple habits, like proper hand hygiene and coughing/sneezing into a tissue will help prevent the spread of the flu and other illnesses.
Remember, going to work or school if you aren’t feeling well doesn’t benefit anyone. Stay home, rest, hydrate and allow time to get better before returning to everyday interactions with others.
Finally, the cost of the flu shot is fully covered under all insurances when given by in-network providers. The flu vaccine is a vital measure to help us really enjoy the beauty of fall and the jubilance of the holidays by staying happy, healthy and flu-free.