Flu season typically lasts from December to March, but the ideal time for “high-risk” people to be inoculated with the flu vaccine is now through mid-November, says Dr. James Luby, an infectious disease expert at UT Southwestern Medical Center. Although vaccine shortages have been experienced in the past, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting no short supplies this season.
The vaccine begins to protect within about two weeks after a flu shot.
“It is an effective way to prevent influenza, reduce its severity or decrease the risk of complications, such as pneumonia,” Dr. Luby says.
The CDC recommends vaccination for children ages 6 months to 5 years old, pregnant women, people aged 50 and older or people of any age with chronic medical conditions. The federal agency also recommends vaccination for people who live with, or care for, at-risk people.
Experts also urge everyone to follow these tips to stay healthy:
Avoid close contact with sick people; avoid close contact with others when sick.
Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough.
Wash your hands often.
Try not to touch your nose, eyes or mouth.