Primary Care

Influenza season is here: 6 reasons to get a flu shot

September 16, 2021
young boy getting vaccine

Though influenza viruses are always circulating, more people in the U.S. typically catch the flu in fall and winter. We call these months the “flu season,” and it’s the ideal time to get your annual flu shot.

“You’ll have the best protection against flu if you get the vaccine at the beginning of fall, before flu cases start to rise,” says Melanie Ames, FNP, Family Nurse Practitioner at Riverside Bruton Avenue Family Practice with Riverside Health System.

Since cases of the flu usually start to increase around October and peak between December and February, the months of September and October are the best times to make your flu shot appointment. However, you can get the vaccine at any time during flu season and still decrease your risk.

“Just keep in mind that it takes about two weeks for your body to make the antibodies that protect it from the virus after you get the flu vaccine,” Ames adds. “And children who need two doses should get vaccinated as soon as possible since the two doses must be given four weeks apart.”

If you’re on the fence about getting a flu shot, here are six statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that will make you say “yes” to the flu vaccine this year – and every year:

  1. When the flu vaccine “viruses” match the flu viruses that are spreading in your community, you are 40-60% less likely to need to visit the doctor with the flu.
  2. If you get vaccinated but still get the flu, you may have less severe symptoms than if you don’t get vaccinated and get the flu.
  3. If you get vaccinated but still get the flu and you require hospitalization, you are 59% less likely to need ICU care than if you don’t get vaccinated and require hospitalization.
  4. In older adults, the flu vaccine reduces the risk of flu-associated hospitalizations by an average of 40%.
  5. In children with underlying high-risk medical conditions, the flu vaccine reduces the risk of flu-associated death by 51% – in healthy children, the vaccine reduces the risk by nearly 65%.
  6. Besides protecting yourself, the flu vaccine may also help you protect other people, including those who are more vulnerable to the virus.

Doctors recommend that everyone over the age of 6 months get the flu shot once a year. Riverside offers free flu shots for those age 14 and up while supplies last. Learn where and how to get your free vaccine so you can get ready for flu season.

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