The weather is turning colder and the coughs and sniffles of a new school year have begun. With that comes a reminder from the CDC to get your family their flu shots before flu season is in full swing.
The CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine for anyone age six months or older. So when is the best time for your family to get their yearly shots? With the flu virus normally peeking from December to February it’s best to build up your immunity beforehand. The CDC offers, “In trying to balance the need to get many people vaccinated before flu activity begins with concerns about potential waning of vaccine-induced immunity during the flu season, CDC and ACIP recommended that vaccination be offered by the end of October.”
Children between the ages of six months and eight years who are receiving a two phase shot should begin as soon as possible. The two shots need to be administered at least four weeks apart, so getting the first done soon will help those children build up immunity before the full effects of flu season are upon us. “The timing of flu is unpredictable and can vary in different parts of the country and from season to season,” according to the CDC. “Seasonal flu viruses can be detected year-round; however, seasonal flu activity often begins as early as October and November and can continue to occur as late as May.”
For children over two years old, the nasal spray version of the vaccine is reportedly just as effective as the shots this flu season, something that hasn’t always been true in recent years. Also, the CDC reminds us how important it is for pregnant women to get the vaccine, since only one in three expecting women receive both influenza and whooping cough vaccines. Women with the flu are more than twice as likely to be hospitalized if they’re pregnant.
Preventative measures like frequent handwashing and staying away from others who are sick are also recommended to prevent the spread of the flu this season. If you or a loved one begin to feel ill, make sure to get to the doctor. Antivirals are available that may shorten the length of the illness. Once you’ve seen your doctor, make sure you or your sick child stay home to decrease the spread of illness.
For up to date statistics on the spread of this year’s flu, visit the CDC’s Weekly U.S. Influenza report. You can also check out this vaccine finder to locate a place to get the flu vaccine near you.