Believe it or not, it’s once again time for your annual flu shot. If you haven’t had yours yet, you should think about giving your doctor a call to schedule an appointment. Or you can stop by just about any Walgreens or CVS store in Topeka or Lawrence and get one. Just look for a flu shot sign outside the store.
And don’t forget. If you’re a caregiver for someone who has Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia, he or she will also need a flu shot.
When Is Flu Season?
Flu season in the U.S. begins in October and can last as late as May. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends you get your flu shot by the end of October. But missing the “deadline” isn’t a good reason for skipping the vaccine altogether. It’s better to get one later in the season than to not get one at all.
Why it’s Especially Important for Seniors (and Caregivers) to Get Flu Shots
According to the CDC, each year, up to 700,000 people are hospitalized with the flu. The vast majority of those who become seriously ill are seniors. That’s because your immune system weakens with age. So if you’re age 65 or older, you’re more likely to suffer complications from the flu than people who are younger.
If you’re not over the age of 65, but you’re caring for someone who is, you need a flu shot to minimize the risk of spreading the flu to that person.
Myths About Flu Vaccines
If you haven’t said it yourself, you’ve probably heard other people tell stories about how they refuse to get a flu shot because they had one once upon a time and it gave them the flu. But if someone gets the flu right after they got a flu shot, they were going to get sick anyway. You see, it takes a week or two for the flu shot to become effective. So if you get sick within a day or two of your shot, it’s because you weren’t yet fully protected and you caught the virus somewhere else.
And after you catch the flu, it takes a few days for symptoms to appear. So if you’re coughing and sneezing the day after you get your flu shot, you were actually sick before you got the shot.
But here’s the main reason why there’s no way the flu shot can make you sick. The vaccine is made from a virus that’s been “inactivated,” which means there’s no way it can cause infection.