An average of 5 percent to 20 percent of the U.S. population gets influenza (flu) every year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This seasonal, contagious respiratory disease can lead to serious illness, hospitalization or even death.
Emily N. Galli, MD, MBA, of St. Clair Medical Group Internal Medicine, says, “The flu vaccine is the best way to prevent the flu and complications such as sinus infections, viral and bacterial pneumonia, exacerbation of pre-existing medical conditions and respiratory failure.”
Although the vaccine does not guarantee 100 percent protection, it is worth getting. Because protection from the vaccine wanes over time and flu viruses are constantly changing, yearly vaccination is recommended for the best protection.
“Your immunity from the vaccine typically lasts several months, long enough to protect you through one flu season,” says Dr. Galli. “The vaccine protects against the strains of flu that researchers predict will be predominant in a given flu season.”
Flu season starts in October and ends in May, so it is suggested that everyone six months old and older get a flu shot between late September and early November to provide protection during the peak months of December, January and February.
Vaccination is especially important for people at higher risk of developing complications, including pregnant women, older adults, young children and people with weakened immune systems.
Dr. Galli emphasizes, “It takes about two weeks to develop antibodies after you receive your vaccine. You may develop arm soreness or redness and flu-like symptoms, but you will not get the flu from the vaccine. It is designed in such a way that it cannot infect you with the flu.”
Now is the time to get your flu shot! Talk to your doctor or call St. Clair Health Urgent Care at 412-942-8800 to schedule your vaccination.