Leaves are turning, and cool winds are whipping. It’s a signal of this new season some of us love, and others love to hate.
Flu season is knocking down our door, and doctors say now it’s time to get the vaccine working for you.
Though, don’t expect to be invulnerable.
“The flu virus itself can often change its components or mutate. That’s especially true if flu arrives late in the year,” said Dr. David Schultz.
It takes two weeks for the flu vaccine to start working and it will help prevent the flu for as long as six months.
Last season’s flu was one of the deadliest in decades. It killed 80,000 people nation-wide, including 180 children, and it hospitalized more than a million.
“What’s particularly bad about, is it causes people to miss work and school and in certain populations it can lead to pneumonia,” nurse practitioner Tammy Hargett said.
Young kids and people over 65 need to be particularly careful. Weaker immune systems can potentially lead to death, but Schultz says the sickest are often otherwise the healthiest.
“Middle-aged individuals tend to have a belief that they’re strong, they’re healthy, they can overcome the flu,” he said. “For that reason, they can often stay sicker longer.”
In addition to a vaccine, simply keeping your hands clean can go a long way to staying flu-free.
A new study by the American Academy of Pediatrics found hand sanitizer is safer for kids than washing their hands. Some doctors believe kids don’t spend enough time at the sink.
“I’m from the school of thought, hand washing is always best but some populations such as small children, hand sanitizer is a perfect substitute and quick and easy,” Hargett added.
There’s no telling just how bad this flu season may be, but doctors say one prick on the arm may be your saving grace.
“If you’re out in the community you’re going to be somewhat exposed for sure,” Hargett said.
Visit vaccinefinder.org to find a clinic with the flu shot near you.
Deaconess health is offering flu shots. You can find information on times and locations at deaconess.com/flu.