The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that individuals from the age of 6 months should get their annual flu vaccine. However, recent data from mid-October reveals that a mere 23% of adults and 21% of children have heeded this advice.
So, what’s the urgency behind getting the flu shot? How reliable is it in offering protection? And should those who’ve had the flu in the past still consider getting vaccinated? For clarity on these questions, we sought insights from Dr. Leana Wen, a renowned emergency physician and health policy specialist.
CNN: Is the optimal period for the flu shot passing?
Dr. Leana Wen: Not in the slightest. We’re yet to see the peak of the flu season. Numerous facilities, including local pharmacies and medical clinics, are offering the vaccine. The emphasis is on acting swiftly.
CNN: Is there a benefit to waiting for the height of the flu season?
Wen: It’s advisable to get vaccinated ahead of the flu season’s climax, typically between December and March. With the flu already making rounds, early protection is key.
CNN: Can you elaborate on the significance of the flu shot?
Wen: The flu can be perilous. The vaccine plays a dual role: diminishing the risk of severe illness and curbing the spread. It’s a matter of individual and community safety.
CNN: For those who’ve contracted the flu previously, is the shot still relevant?
Wen: Absolutely. Past infections don’t offer a shield for the upcoming season. Plus, many mistakenly equate other ailments with the flu. Vaccination remains paramount.
CNN: Why the emphasis on an annual flu shot?
Wen: Over time, immunity fades, and flu strains evolve. Each year’s vaccine is tailored to counter the anticipated dominant strains.
CNN: When’s the best window for the shot?
Wen: The period spanning late September to early October is ideal, ensuring coverage throughout the season.
CNN: Any additional health pointers for the winter months?
Wen: Alongside the flu vaccine, consider updating your Covid-19 vaccination. Uphold stringent hand hygiene, and in densely populated indoor areas, consider masking. Regular health check-ups and maintaining a balanced lifestyle are equally vital.