Flu activity is increasing; protect yourself and others

Feb 14th, 2018 | By | Category: Health & Fitness

It’s not too late to get your flu shot, the best protection against the flu. The more people who get vaccinated, the more who will be protected from the flu, including those with weaker immune systems such as older adults, very young children, pregnant women, and anyone with chronic health conditions.

Flu activity typically peaks between December and March.

Why get the flu shot now?

If you haven’t had a flu shot and you’re exposed to the flu virus, you won’t know for a day or two that you’re sick — and during those two days, you’re infectious.

Even though flu activity is low in the United States right now, it’s best to get your flu shot early to give it time to be effective.

The flu vaccine contains inactivated flu virus, which cannot give you infection. This prompts an immune response — that is, your body recognizes something foreign and reacts by producing antibodies to get rid of it.

If you’re later exposed to the live virus, your body will be able to recognize it and quickly launch an immune attack to kill the virus. This immune response takes a period of time to fully develop, which is why it’s important to get the flu shot early.

And because flu viruses are constantly changing, each year the vaccine is updated based on which influenza viruses are making people sick. That’s why it’s important to get a flu shot every year.

Be sure to get a shot, not the nasal spray. The FluMist vaccine is no longer recommended by the national Centers for Disease Control (CDC) because of concerns about its effectiveness.

Who should get the flu shot?

The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older.

What else can I do to protect myself?

In addition to a flu shot, be sure to wash your hands regularly — it’s one of the most effective steps against illness. Also:

  • Avoid crowded places and close contact with people who are sick
  • Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze
  • Avoid touching your eyes and nose, as this is how flu viruses spread
  • Stay home and rest if you get sick

Where can I get my flu shot?

MultiCare Health System offers flu shots for both adults and children at a wide range of locations throughout the Puget Sound and inland northwest regions. Make an appointment with your primary care provider, pediatric provider, or visit one of our walk-in clinics:

MultiCare Health System, which produced this article, is a not-for-profit health care organization with more than 18,000 employees, providers and volunteers

The more people who get a flu shot, the more who are protected against the potentially serious illness.