How To Protect Yourself This Flu Season

Many people associate flu with the cold winter months, but now is the time to start planning to get a vaccination for the upcoming influenza season.

The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age or older should get an influenza (flu) vaccine, every season by the end of October. Although influenza viruses can spread all year round, flu activity typically peaks between December and February and can last through May.

“Now is the prime time to get your flu shot,” said Rachel Schraft, NP, at McLaren Greater Lansing – Okemos Community Medical Center. “It takes a few weeks following vaccination for your body to produce antibodies and boost its ability to fight off the virus.”

According to the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), there are many benefits to receiving your flu vaccine as it has been shown to reduce the risk of having to go to the doctor for the flu by 40% to 60%. And for children, studies show  a 75% reduction of risk of severe life-threatening influenza.

“The flu vaccine not only protects you and others from getting sick, but it can significantly reduce the severity of symptoms and flu-associated hospitalizations,” said Schraft.

New from the 2022-2023 flu season, for people 65 years and older, there are now three flu vaccines that are preferentially recommended over the standard-dose flu vaccines: the Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent vaccine, the Flublok Quadrivalent recombinant flu vaccine, and the Fluad Quadrivalent adjuvanted flu vaccine. An adjuvant is an ingredient used in some vaccines that helps create a stronger immune response in people receiving the vaccine.

The flu is not the only virus that peaks when the weather gets colder. Last year, medical professionals saw an influx of other non-flu respiratory infections including respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) as well as an uptick in COVID-19 illnesses. All of these illnesses can be life-threatening to those who are vulnerable to serious illness. This would include people with certain chronic health conditions, people over the age of 65, and young children.

“It’s important to talk to your provider about the different vaccinations available and how you can best protect yourself and others from illness this upcoming season,” said Schraft.

To help further protect you from contracting or spreading viruses, Schraft recommends washing your hands properly for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water, covering your cough, social distancing, and wearing a mask if you are feeling ill.

Schraft is a nurse practitioner who also specializes in pediatrics. To schedule an appointment with her, click here.

To find a full list of primary care providers accepting new patients, click here.

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