The weather turns colder, the seasons change from fall to winter, and the first real signs of flu season are visible. Flu season begins in October, and runs through May, but the peak times for the flu are often seen in December, January, and February.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that during the 2018-2019 flu season, somewhere between 37.4 and 42.9 million people in the United States were sick with the flu – and well over half a million hospitalizations were linked to people who had the flu.
If the numbers aren’t enough reason to convince you that it’s time to get your flu shot, or if you have doubts about whether a flu shot works, here are 10 quick facts for you to use:
1. A flu shot is recommended for anyone six months and older.
This is the recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Anyone with severe, life-threatening allergies to certain flu shot ingredients is the exception. Even the healthiest people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others.
2. A flu shot is most important for people who are at risk for serious complications.
- Pregnant women
- Young children
- Adults 65 and older
- Anyone with chronic health conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease
Talk with a doctor about whether your child needs two doses to stay protected.
4. The risk for serious complications from the flu is greater for some children.
This includes children who are:
- Younger than 6 months old who can’t get the flu shot yet
- Between ages 6 months and 5 years old
- Of American Indian and Alaskan Native origin
- Aged 6 months or older with chronic health problems
5. A flu shot typically takes about two weeks to be effective in your body.
That’s why it’s important to get the flu vaccine earlier to ensure you are protected.
6. A flu shot helps protect women during and after their pregnancy.
In fact, a flu shot can also help protect your baby for several months after birth.
7. Even if you didn’t get your flu shot in October, it’s not too late.
Because peak flu season often occurs in December, January, and February, getting a flu shot later in the season can still help you stay protected. If you’ve recently had the flu, you can still get other strains during flu season. Getting a flu shot helps protect you from a second bout of the illness and prevents you from spreading it to others.
8. Even if you had a flu shot last year, you should get one this year.
Flu viruses are constantly changing and vaccines are updated yearly. Your immunity from the flu shot also declines over time, so an annual shot is essential.
9. A flu shot is the most important thing you can do to protect yourself and others from the flu.
However, you should take certain steps every day to prevent the spread of the flu, including covering your nose or mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, washing your hands with soap and water often, and avoiding close contact as much as possible with anyone who may have the flu.
10. Flu shots are no cost* for CDPHP members on most plans, and there are many locations where you can get one.
*No-cost flu shots available on most plans. Check your member contract or call member services at the number on your ID card to confirm eligibility.