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Never get the flu? Why you should get vaccinated anyway

“Flu is a big deal”

Just because you haven’t had the flu in the past few years, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get vaccinated, ADC doctors say.

Flu vaccine for the upcoming flu season is already available. It protects against three strains of flu that researchers predict will be a problem this year: H1N1 (avian flu), H3N2 (swine flu) and B viruses.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone 6 months of age and older be vaccinated against the flu. Young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with chronic medical conditions are most at risk for developing complications if they catch the flu.

The CDC reports that flu causes thousands of deaths each year, but the season can be unpredictable, and some years rates of infection are much more severe than others.

“The flu vaccine is like a seat belt,” said Dr. Vimal George, ADC Family Practice. “There are many years when you go and you don’t get the flu and you do fine. But there are those years when it definitely would have been advisable to get the flu vaccine.”

How do you know you have flu?

“Flu is a big deal, and I think people underestimate the flu,” Dr. George said.

When you catch the flu, you may feel some or all of these symptoms:

  • Rapid onset of feeling ill
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle aches

“Those are the common symptoms you get with flu,” Dr. George said. “For more complicated cases you can develop pneumonia, serious respiratory illness which can lead to hospitalization and death.”

Doctors say flu season usually begins in October and continues well into the spring. It can peak in January and February, but now is a good time to protect yourself.

Antibodies in the vaccine need about two weeks to develop before they can protect you against the flu, so the CDC recommends getting vaccinated now.

“There’s no reason to delay. Getting the flu shot right now will protect you through the entire season,” Dr. George said.

What’s the next best way to prevent flu?

“Washing hands is definitely number one on the list – demonstrating good hygiene,” Dr. George said.

Resources

CDC: Seasonal Flu