While the timing of flu season is unpredictable, seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and last as late as May. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that everyone in your family who is 6 months of age and older get vaccinated by the end of October, if possible.
Courtney Stump, a Physician Assistant with Catawba Valley Family Medicine – North Hickory explains, “It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body that protect against influenza, the virus that causes flu. So, getting vaccinated before the season starts is recommended to help keep you and your family members healthy through the season.”
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses causing mild to severe illness. Most people who get sick from flu will get better in several days to less than two weeks, but some people can develop complications, like pneumonia, as a result of the flu. According to the CDC, each year, millions of people get sick from the flu, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized, and approximately 36,000 people die from flu. The flu usually comes on suddenly, and symptoms may include a fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough and sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue, and some people may even have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
“Flu viruses change, so flu vaccines must change too,” says Stump. “Each year’s vaccine is unique, cultivated from the flu strains health officials believe will be most problematic that year.”
What Else You Can Do?
In addition to getting a yearly flu vaccine, you should also take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs. Avoid close contact with sick people, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and wash your hands often with soap and water.
Talk to your healthcare professional if you have any questions about getting the flu vaccine. You can also visit the CDC’s webpage for updated flu and flu vaccine information specific to the current flu season. Medicare/Medicaid and most private health insurance plans cover the flu shot.
Where to Get a Vaccine
To schedule an appointment with Courtney Stump or another provider at Catawba Valley Family Medicine – North Hickory located at 212 29th Ave. NE Suite 1 in Hickory, please call 828.326.0658. This practice is one of 15 located throughout the area in the Catawba Valley Medical Group network. To ask about a provider near you, simply call 828.326.2876 to reach our Physician Referral line.