When the leaves change colors and the air gets cooler, flu season is right around the corner. To protect yourself, make sure you get your annual flu shot!* While the flu shot is recommended for all people over the age of 6 months, some people are more vulnerable to serious flu complications than others. These serious complications can lead to hospitalization and even death. People who are at higher-risk for more serious flu complications include:
- Older people (especially those over 65)
- Young children
- Pregnant women
- People with weakened immune systems (such as many cancer patients)
If you fall into one of these categories, it’s especially important to get your annual flu shot. If you are a cancer patient or cancer survivor, talk to your doctor about getting a flu shot as soon as possible. Even if you are a caregiver, it’s important to get a flu shot to protect yourself and prevent spreading the flu to your loved one.
When should you get your flu shot? Well, it’s best to get your flu shot by the end of October, but don’t worry if you haven’t yet! You can still get a flu shot through January or even later. Peak flu season is typically from December to March. Find where you can get your shot by using the HealthMap Vaccine Finder.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are actually many different types of flu viruses. Every year, the flu vaccine is reviewed and updated to help protect against the types of flu viruses currently circulating. The more people who get the flu vaccine the better the protection is for everyone! With more people vaccinated, the flu cannot spread as quickly. For the 2016-2017 flu season, the CDC recommends that you do not use the nasal spray flu vaccine. You should receive an injectable flu vaccine, also called the flu shot.
What else can you do to protect yourself during flu season? Wash your hands regularly. Disinfect your home by wiping down often-touched surfaces like the kitchen counter. Avoid people who are sick. If you are sick, do not go to work or school to stop the spread of the virus. Always cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough. If you start to have flu-like symptoms, go to your doctor right away! If taken in the first 48 hours, antiviral medications can help you feel better faster.
*Always talk to your healthcare team before getting a flu shot, especially if you are a cancer patient or survivor.
Learn more about the flu vaccine from the CDC’s website or from your healthcare team.