Influenza (flu) season is here. The season typically begins in October and can run as late as May. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that millions of people get the flu every year, thousands are hospitalized and some people even die from flu-related causes. Influenza doesn’t discriminate, all ages, genders, income levels, and races can be impacted, and even healthy people can get the flu.
Public health officials in the St. Louis metropolitan area are issuing a reminder that the best way to reduce your risk of getting sick with the flu and spreading it to others is to get an annual flu vaccination. "Influenza is a potentially serious infection but it is preventable,” said Steven Lawrence, MD, MSC, Associate Professor of Medicine Division of Infectious Diseases, Washington University School of Medicine. “The best way to reduce your risk for influenza is to get the flu shot. It is safe and cannot itself cause influenza and it is recommended for everybody over 6 months of age unless there is a history of allergic reaction to prior influenza vaccines."
Although it is recommended that everyone 6 months of age and older get a flu vaccine every year, it is critical that some individuals get vaccinated because they are at higher risk of serious complications from the flu. These high risk populations include: children younger than 5, adults 65 years of age and older, pregnant women, and residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities and individuals with weakened immune systems.
The timing of your vaccination can reduce your chances of getting sick. “We recommend people get a flu shot by the end of October, if possible. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for the body’s immune response to fully respond and for you to be protected,” said IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D. “Therefore, it’s better to be vaccinated before flu viruses start circulating.”
Contact your primary healthcare provider or local health department for additional information about the flu or for vaccination sites in your community.
Additional information on the influenza vaccine is available here.
Department of Health
Immunizations and Public Health