Yesterday I got my flu shot.
Here’s what I’d like you to know about the flu shot.
The flu shot takes about 2 weeks to reach it’s max protectiveness, so I like to get it around mid-October.
Flu seasons vary from year to year. Some years the flu comes early in November or December; other years, like last year, it peaks late in April or May.
Experts are warning that the 2019-20 flu season may be a bad one, and it may start early. In fact, cases of flu were diagnosed in September, and there has already been at least one death.
A particularly nasty strain of flu virus, H3N2, is predicted to be active this season. H3N2 is a type of influenza A virus. Influenza A tends to be more virulent and spread more rapidly than type B strains.
The flu shot is never a perfect match for the viruses going around, but even partial protection is better than none. Luckily, this season’s flu shot covers the H3N2 virus as well as 3 other probable strains. Don’t choose to skip your flu shot because someone told you it’s only 30% or 55% effective. That may be enough to keep you out of the hospital (or alive).
The flu shot doesn’t give you the flu. The vaccine does not have any live virus in it, so it can’t give you the flu. It’s normal, however, to have a sore arm for a day or two, or have a mild immune response that makes you feel a bit off. But it’s NOT the flu. If you need it, a dose of ibuprofen or acetaminophen will help.
If you have health insurance, the flu shot should be free. Health plans are required by law to cover flu shots at no cost to you (so no co-pay or deductibles). Some employers also offer flu shots. If you don’t have insurance, contact your local public health department. Or shop around for the best cash price. You should be able to get the vaccine for less than $50, which is certainly cheaper than going to the doctor or emergency room if you get the flu.
Everyone over the age of 6 months should get vaccinated. Even, perhaps especially, pregnant women. For more information on this year’s flu vaccine, check out the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) Seasonal Flu page.
If you’re unlucky and get the flu (I got it myself two years ago), here are a few past posts that may help you:
- Know the difference between colds and flu
- The best over-the-counter flu medicines
- Cold or flu? Stay home!
I also have more links to vaccine/immunization information on my Resources page.