It’s mid-winter and everyone around you is already sniffling and sneezing. Is it too late to get a “flu shot” to protect yourself?
Experts say even if flu season is in full swing, it’s not too late to get vaccinated. A late flu shot can still protect you from the virus, even after the flu has started to affect those around you. While it’s certainly ideal to get your shot in the fall — typically around September or October before the season really kicks off — getting your shot late is better than not getting one at all.
A textbook flu season generally runs from December to February, but some years it kicks in as early as October and lasts well into the spring months, ending in May. So even if you wait until mid-winter to get vaccinated, it can still protect you from a virus you can contract later in the season.
As the saying goes, better late than never.
Avoiding flu complications
This flu season is expected to be more severe than in years past for older individuals. Unfortunately, the strains of flu virus that this year’s vaccine protects against aren’t a good match for the most common strain of the flu circulating this year, largely because the virus itself has mutated, according to the CDC.
This means that in addition to getting vaccinated, which can still offer some protection against the flu, you might also want to consider paying a visit to your doctor if you have a high persistent fever or can’t shake the flu. He or she can prescribe an antiviral medication that may help your body kick the flu more effectively. Seeing your doctor is even more important if you have a condition that puts you at higher risk for flu complications.
People at higher risk for flu complications include the young children, older adults, pregnant women and those with chronic health conditions, such as asthma. Some ethnic groups, particularly American Indians and Alaskan Natives, also seem to be more susceptible to complications, according to the CDC.
Typical symptoms of the flu to watch out for include:
- Nasal congestion
- Body aches