As flu activity begins to increase in our area, the Florida Department of Health in Santa Rosa County (DOH-Santa Rosa) is recommending flu shots for everyone over the age of six months.
An annual flu shot can protect you, your family and the community, and is especially important for those in high risk groups, which include children, pregnant women (or women who plan to become pregnant), those with chronic medical conditions and adults over the age of 65.
This year’s vaccine protects against four strains of flu, two Type A and two Type B.
“We’ve been monitoring activity in our area on a weekly basis, and although it’s still relatively mild, we are seeing an increase in reports of flu and influenza like illnesses,” said Ashlee Turner, Biological Scientist III with DOH-Santa Rosa. “However, it’s still too early to tell if this trend will continue.”
Turner said the peak of flu activity typically occurs from December to February but can last as late as May.
“It’s really important to get that flu shot before we move into the peak season,” she said.
It is a common misconception that a flu shot can make you sick. The injectable vaccine is made with attenuated virus which can produce an immune response without giving you the disease. It takes approximately two weeks for the body to develop immunity to the disease, so if you become sick in the meantime, you were probably exposed to the flu before you were vaccinated.
Some side effects are possible, but they are generally mild and can include soreness and redness at the injection site, muscle aches, a mild headache, fatigue and a low-grade fever.
The flu shot does not protect against all the different strains of flu circulating in a season, but even if you come in contact with a virus that is not covered by the vaccine, it will provide some protection. Those who were vaccinated will also not be as sick from a nonvaccine strain as they would have been had they not had a shot.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu vaccine also reduces the risk of death in children with underlying medical conditions by approximately 51% and in healthy children by 65%. The flu vaccine has been found to also reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalizations among adults by approximately 40%.