CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. – You may have started seeing advertisements for the flu shot posted in pharmacies and local supermarkets already. But are these signs similar to holiday decorations put out months before the appropriate season, or is it really time to get your vaccination?
Ruth Freshman, Infection Preventionist with Summit Health recommends the vulnerable population, including the elderly, get the vaccine in September or October. However, getting the vaccine earlier can help in preventing the flu in the event of an outbreak earlier in the year.
“Timing is important with the flu vaccine because research shows it’s most effective for about six months. If you get the flu shot too early, it may not be as effective through the entire flu season, which typically lasts through March,” she explained. “However, if you wait too long, you could get the virus early in the season. Those at a high risk for getting the flu should not go unprotected.
According to the CDC, flu activity usually happens between October and May, peaking between December and February. The flu causes approximately 150,000 hospital admissions and 24,000 deaths annually in the United States, according to the CDC.
The flu and the common cold can have similar symptoms – fever, body aches, tiredness, and cough – but in general, they are more intense with the flu.
Seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of the following:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Purple or blue discoloration of the lips
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Flu-like symptoms that improve but return with fever and cough