The cooler months ahead may be the most wonderful time of the year, but they’re also cold and flu season. And the best protection against the flu is getting a yearly flu shot. Doing so reduces the chances you’ll get the flu and spread it to others. And while you probably don’t want to be compared with a bunch of cows, getting the flu shot improves the immunity of your entire “herd.” That’s because when a critical portion of a community or group is immunized against the flu, most members are protected because there is little opportunity for an outbreak.
The flu vaccine doesn’t give you the flu. It causes your body to develop antibodies to the virus about two weeks after you get the shot. That’s why it’s important to get the vaccine early – before there are outbreaks. And you need to get a flu shot every year because each yearly vaccine protects against the viruses that research shows will be the most common during the upcoming flu season.
While everyone should get vaccinated, the shot is especially important for those who are high risk for serious flu complications, including pneumonia, which can lead to hospitalization and even death. These people include seniors ages 65 and older, those with chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease and asthma, pregnant women and young children.
One of the reasons to get vaccinated is because the flu is spread so easily – from people up to six feet away from each other. Medical experts believe the virus is spread by droplets when infected people sneeze, cough or even talk. You can also get the flu by touching an object that has been contaminated by such droplets and then touching your own nose or mouth.
The flu is no fun. It’s easy to spread. But it’s easy to reduce your risks. Get a flu shot – at your doctor’s office or drug store. Prevention is always easier than getting sick.
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