WAMPSVILLE — This week is National Influenza Vaccination Week, and Madison County Department of Health is reminding everyone that it’s not too late to get your flu vaccine.
It is recommended to be vaccinated by the end of October so that people are more likely to be protected against the flu when activity picks up in the area. Vaccination into December and beyond can be beneficial during most flu seasons, including this one.
“Flu season most often peaks between December and March, but activity can occur as late as May,” says Katie Mungari, Madison County director of Community Health. “We are encouraging people who have not yet been vaccinated this season to get vaccinated now.”
It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies that protect against influenza virus infection to develop in the body, so it’s best to get vaccinated early.
For millions of people every season, the flu means a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, fatigue and miserable days spent in bed. Millions of people get sick, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized, and thousands to tens of thousands of people die from flu each year.
There is a vaccine that can help reduce the risk of flu and its potentially serious complications. While the vaccine varies in how well it works, there are many studies that show that flu vaccination reduces flu illnesses, doctor visits and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevents flu-related hospitalizations.
CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against seasonal flu viruses. Some people are at high risk for serious flu-related complications that can lead to hospitalization and even death. People at high risk include pregnant women, children younger than age 5, but especially children younger than 2-years-old, people age 65 and older, and people who have certain medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease.
Vaccinating pregnant women helps protect them from flu illness and hospitalization, and also has been shown to help protect the baby from flu infection for several months after birth, before the baby can be vaccinated. Flu vaccination has also been associated with lower rates of some cardiac events, such as a heart attack, among people with heart disease, especially among those who had had a cardiac event in the 12 months prior to flu vaccination.
For those at high risk of serious flu complications, getting a flu vaccine is especially important. It’s also important to get the vaccine if you care for anyone at high risk, including children younger than 6 months who are too young to get a flu vaccine.
“Getting the flu vaccine is simple, and it’s the most important thing you can do to protect yourself and your family from the flu,” said Mungari.
Hundreds of millions of Americans have safely received flu vaccines over the past 50 years, and there has been extensive research supporting the safety of seasonal flu vaccines.
For more information about the seriousness of the flu and the benefits of flu vaccination(https://www.cdc.gov/flu/), talk to your doctor or other health care professional, or visit www.healthymadisoncounty.org.