PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – From the grocery to the pharmacy to the superstores, everywhere you turn you are seeing offers for the flu shot.
But is it too early? You certainly want the protection to last through the entire flu season.
Dr. Brian Lamb is an Internist with Allegheny Health Network.
“We usually recommend from the Allegheny Health Network late September to October is the best time and so we are about halfway through September, so it is time to start calling your doctor and getting your flu shot,” he said.
He adds in this year of COVID-19 its more important than ever.
“We want to help keep the demands on health care low, getting your flu shot can help reduce your risk of being hospitalized by the flu by anywhere from 40 to 60%,” he explained. “When we have another pandemic going on protecting yourself from this from the flu will actually help, you know, save our resources for people who may get sick from COVID who may need, you know, higher, higher levels of hospitalization. And so it’s a way to keep yourself safe.”
While the flu shot does nothing to prevent COVID-19 Dr. Lamb says, “It can help prevent the flu. Also, and a lot of people if they do get the flu, they may have shorter durations and they may get less sick from the flu.”
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But the timing of the shot is critical.
“Your immunity tends to wait,” he said. “You don’t have long-lasting immunity from a flu shot otherwise you would never need another flu shot again. If you get it too early in the year by the time flu season really hits, and flu season we really considered to be late November, December, January, and February, that’s really when we start to see flu, kicking off. Getting your flu shot a little bit later in the fall, late September, early October prime’s your immune response and it’s still very prime, whenever you hit those main flu months.”
Dr. Lamb says they recommend everyone from newborn on up, get a flu shot.
“For the elderly, they get a high dose flu shot and its important they reach to their primary care doctors because it is time to start getting it now,” he said.
While flu shots will continue to be offered through the flu season, waiting until someone near you is sick is too late. The flu shot takes about two weeks in your body to create your protection.