It’s December: Is it too Late for a Flu Shot?

Published in Wellness

The holidays—and peak flu season—are just around the corner.  And unfortunately the flu bug is already starting to pop up at homes, worksites, day cares, schools and nursing homes. That’s why you need to get vaccinated: especially seniors, pregnant women and anyone with chronic health conditions.  Simply put, everyone six months and older should get the flu shot.

As an infectious disease consultant, I see flu cases ranging from mild to bad; this is why the most common thing I tell patients this time of year is to get the flu shot.  And even I, a devoted flu shot-ee who gets vaccinated every year, still got what felt like the flu a few weeks ago. I had coughing fits, fever and chills. I was exhausted, and I couldn’t get out of bed. I don’t know how bad it could have been without my flu shot, but I’m glad I didn’t have to find out. The vaccine has been proven to prevent the infection, but more importantly, from turning into something more serious.

If you think it’s too late to get a flu shot, think again; the peak flu season begins around February. So pick up the phone and make an appointment today. It takes about two weeks for the flu vaccine to help you fight the flu.

If you’ve already had your shot, remember these tips to stay healthy over the holidays (Aunt Elma didn’t mean to bring that virus with her fruitcake):

  1. My number one piece of advice is to wash your hands often. Use common sense: after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, being around sick people and, especially, before you eat.  Don’t reuse tissues—throw them away immediately, and when you can, cough into the inside of your elbow, not your hand.
  2. Keep your hands away from your face.  It’s easy to get a cold or flu virus.  Just because no one around you is sneezing or coughing doesn’t mean there aren’t flu germs on the bench, door handle or office stapler.  The flu virus can last up to eight hours on any surface. The flu spreads by entering the membranes in your mouth and nose, so when you touch something that has a virus you have a much higher chance of getting it too.
  3. Get enough sleep and avoid getting “run down.” When you’re well-rested, you have a better chance of fighting the flu.
  4. If you are sick, stay home from school or work. I did.  Missing a day or two is better than missing two weeks. Give your body a fighting chance to beat the bug. Plus everyone will thank you for not exposing them to your germs.

‘Tis the season of giving, but the gift of germs isn’t something anyone wants to receive.  So this holiday season give yourself (and those you love) the gift…of a flu shot.