When do I need a flu shot? It may not feel like flu season, but October is the time to get one

Flu season starts now. Since the shot can take weeks to protect you, getting a shot before the end of October is most effective.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone over 6 months old get a flu shot before the end of October.

“You need to get vaccinated now because it takes two weeks after getting the flu shot for your body to be protected,” said Evan M. Davidson, M.D., Norton Community Medical Associates – Brownsboro.

Flu season generally starts in October, with the highest number of people getting sick in December and January. And it can last into May, according to the CDC. Our area has already started seeing cases.

Last year, more than 80,000 people died from the flu — the highest number in more than 40 years. The CDC estimates that nearly half of Kentuckians and Hoosiers did not get a flu shot last year.

Don’t spread the bug during the holidays

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“With the holidays rapidly approaching and families getting together, you want to be protected so you do not spread the illness to seniors, infants and those at risk for complications,” Dr. Davidson said. “And who wants to take that kind of ‘gift’ home with them?”

The flu is easily spread, as people are contagious a day before they feel sick and up to seven days after. While the vaccine is not 100 percent effective, it reduces the risk. And if you are one of the few who still gets the flu despite the vaccine, you are not likely to be as sick and you have a lower risk of getting pneumonia.

People at highest risk for complications from the flu are children younger than age 5; adults over age 65; people with heart disease, lung disease, diabetes and other chronic conditions; people with weakened immune systems; and pregnant women. Also, residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities are at high risk.

Learn the difference between the flu and a stomach virus or a common cold.

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