Updated: September 24, 2013 6:38PM
The flu season doesn’t officially start until next month, and continues until March. Yet signs touting flu shots are all over. It’s too early to roll up the sleeve and get one, isn’t it?
Not at all, says Dr. Derek van Amerongen, medical director of Chicago-based HumanaVitality. Actually, the earlier the better. Now is the perfect time, because then you ward off the flu all season, according to van Amerongen.
“Everyone should take the flu seriously and get the vaccine,” says van Amerongen. “The shots are a safe, inexpensive way to prevent getting sick.”
And forget those misconceptions that the shot causes the flu. “The shot contains only dead cultures of the virus,” van Amerongen says. “It is a matter of coincidence if someone gets the flu after getting the shot.”
Even if a person had the shot and later came down with the flu, there is an upside. “The flu shot is not perfect,” said van Amerongen, “but it is the only proven protection against the virus and if someone should get the flu after having the shot it will be much milder.”
No new strains of the flu have surfaced this season; however, the ones that exists Dr. van Amerongen says, “are dangerous enough.” Last year 40,000 people died from the virus.
The young and elderly are the most susceptible to getting the virus and typically have the worse cases. He recommends everyone age 6 months and older have the vaccine. —Denise I. O’Neal