Should you get a flu shot?

If you get your flu shot, you’re less likely to wind up like this guy.

With unseasonably warm weather bathing the northeast in a sense of summery security, it’s been hard to imagine that the winter flu season is already upon us. However, October through March is the official period when influenza strikes most, well, virulently.

“You should get your flu shot as early as you can,” warns Boston-based CVS pharmacist Minh Do, pharmD. “That allows your immune system time to build up antibodies.” Your body makes these proteins to fight bacteria and diseases.

It takes approximately 14 days for flu shots to become effective, so if you happen to catch the bug right after your shot, it’s not because of the vaccine itself.

“You are not instantly protected right when you get the flu shot,” Do continues. “You can never, ever get the flu virus from the flu shot. You might have already gotten the flu, but you may not have exhibited the symptoms until a few days later.”

The World Health Organization has predicted that this season’s strain will be the same as last winter’s, but that doesn’t mean that last year’s shot is still good.

“Flu shots have a lifespan of four to six months. You need to get another one this year,” says Do.

The standard flu shot also includes immunization against the H1N1 (so-called “swine flu”) virus, but it won’t protect against other yet-unknown flu strains.

“The WHO tries to predict the seasonal flu vaccine for the upcoming season, so it takes about six months to produce the appropriate vaccine based on the research of thousands of strains out there,” Do says. “The WHO recommends which three flu viruses to be included in the seasonal flu vaccine to the FDA, and then the FDA determines which vaccine goes into production, which takes six months.
In the next few months they’ll be predicting the next flu strains for the upcoming 2012 season. So it’s a long, long process.”

Who’s at risk?

Do says the vaccine “is the best way to protect yourself against the flu virus, particularly for people who are more vulnerable.” Those most vulnerable to getting the virus include:
   
Anyone with a weakened immune system
Children under six
Pregnant women and their husbands
Nursing professionals
Elderly people over 65

The flu’s impact

According to Walgreens, last flu season, many Americans’ social lives were interrupted by the flu:
   
More than 600,000 graduations were missed
More than 1 million weddings weren’t attended
Nearly 5 million holiday celebrations were missed
More than 3 million vacations were changed
More than 5 million sporting events were missed



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 22,…

The Percy Sutton Harlem 5K and NYC Family Health Walk-a-thon and Pakistan Day Parade and Fair will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend. Plan…

International

U.N. nuclear inquiry on Iran seen making slow…

The U.N. nuclear watchdog appears to have made only limited progress so far in getting Iran to answer questions about its suspected atomic bomb research, diplomatic sources said on Friday,…

National

Violence-weary Missouri town sees second night of calm

By Nick Carey and Carey GillamFERGUSON Mo. (Reuters) - The violence-weary town of Ferguson, Missouri, saw a second straight evening of relative calm on Thursday…

National

Journalist James Foley's parents, after call with pope,…

The parents of James Foley, the American journalist killed by Islamic State militants in Iraq, on Friday called for prayer and support to free the remaining captives held by Islamic…

Television

Recap: 'The Knick,' Season 1, Episode 3, 'The…

The third episode of Steven Soderbergh's "The Knick" finds Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) meeting an old flame and other characters embracing self-destruction.

Music

Webcast: Watch Polyphonic Spree live on Sunday Aug.…

Polyphonic Spree singer Tim DeLaughter sits with Metro Music Editor Pat Healy for a chat and then the big band performs live. It begins on Sunday at 9:30 pm

Movies

Matthew Weiner on directing 'Are You Here' and…

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner discusses his movie "Are You Here," his history writing comedy and the tiny movie he directed in 1996 you can't see.

Movies

Michael Chiklis on his football past and 'When…

Michael Chiklis remembers playing football in high school and how that prepped him to play a coach in "When the Game Stands Tall."

NFL

3 things we learned about the Giants in…

The Giants claimed the Snoopy trophy in a battle of MetLife Stadium tenants Friday night. But more importantly, the offense finally showed some life in…

NFL

3 things we learned about the Jets in…

The Jets lost the Snoopy Bowl, 35-24, to the Giants, losing the trophy and local bragging rights.

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

Wellbeing

Asics is giving away free gear around NYC…

Asics wants to see you on the court - and in the stands for the U.S. Open, which begins Monday - by giving away free…

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…