It’s warm this week, as summer appears to be making one last gasp. But colder temperatures will arrive soon enough, and human activity will adjust accordingly. People will spend more time indoors and in closer quarters with others; that makes them more susceptible to catching communicable diseases like the flu. Scientists also say that cold weather allows the influenza virus to flourish, all of which adds up to this: It’s time for flu shots.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention already is reporting scattered outbreaks in parts of the country. Given the virus’ unpredictable nature, and the flu vaccine being effective for about six months, experts say it’s best to be inoculated early.
The most vulnerable are children, pregnant women and the elderly. The CDC says a person who has the flu may infect other people starting one to four days day before symptoms develop and up to seven days after becoming ill.
The flu is no fun. Symptoms include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue; some people, especially children, may endure vomiting and diarrhea. The CDC says the flu can spread when the afflicted cough, sneeze or talk; a person also can pick up the virus by touching a surface or object that has the flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.
This past flu season, one in which the vaccine was deemed a good match for the strains of the flu virus.
Local officials also recommend against the nasal spray version of the vaccines; protection against the virus was deemed very poor over the past two flu seasons. Flu shots are available at most local pharmacies; for those without insurance, they usually cost around $30.
Medical providers say it takes two weeks for the vaccine to become effective. While certainly a flu shot is better late than never, the ideal step is to get it earlier.