Sniff sniff! Achoo! Burrr! The familiar sounds of the flu are ringing in the season, and it’s time for health precautions. Sonya Norman, MD, at Platte Valley Medical Group - Brighton, knows these sounds well and answered some questions.
When is the flu season?
Flu season is between October to March, but it does fluctuate. Most people associate influenza with the colder fall and winter weather. Influenza is present year-round but peaks in this period.
How will COVID-19 affect this flu season?
The dreaded “twindemic” has been making speculative headlines since COVID began. While that fear isn’t baseless, this flu season (knock on wood!) is on track to be more normal.
Norman believes COVID will affect this flu season slightly less than some expect. People have started going out into public, not wearing masks, and becoming accustomed to daily germs. This means more potential flu exposure. Take precautions to avoid both COVID and influenza.
Who is at risk for getting the flu?
This answer is simple: everybody.
“Anybody can get the flu, but there are people who are more at risk,” said Dr. Norman. “This includes people with compromised immune systems and groups like babies, kids, and the elderly.”
Regardless of your immune system status, Dr. Norman stressed that you can’t assume you won’t get the flu. Getting the flu shot and mastering health precautions is your best line of defense.
What can I do to prevent the flu?
Wash your hands. Stay home if you’re sick. Wear a mask if you’re at high risk. And, most importantly, get the flu shot!
Even if you do all these things, there is a chance you will get the flu. The flu shot either prevents influenza or makes your symptoms less severe if you do get it. “The flu shot is always worth getting because influenza is miserable,” Dr. Norman explained. “Even if you’re not somebody at risk for getting severely sick, having the flu generally is miserable.”
When should I get the flu shot?
Dr. Norman suggested getting the flu shot in October at the earliest. “The effectiveness of the flu shot wanes over time,” she said. “If you got your flu shot in August, it might not be as effective by the end of flu season.”
It’s important to emphasize that the flu shot will not make you sick, but you may have side effects. These include fatigue, arm pain, or even a low-grade fever after the vaccine. This means your immune system is responding to the shot, and everything is working!
Where can I get my flu shot?
The flu shot is accessible and can be found in doctor’s offices, pharmacies, and more. Need a flu shot? Find a local SCL Health Primary Care Clinic to get vaccinated here: SCLHealth.org/services/primary-care