By Jessica Ennis for UCHealth
‘Tis the season for relishing the crisp air, cheering on favorite football teams and sipping pumpkin spice lattes. But there’s one more fall ritual that should be on the top of your list; the advent of autumn means it’s time to push up the sleeve of your cozy sweater and get your flu shot.
This year’s flu vaccines have arrived and UCHealth locations are stocked and caregivers have already begun administering them. Drs. Amanpreet Dulai and Janis Sethness, who both specialize in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at UCHealth Primary Care – Yosemite, say no one should delay protecting themselves from the flu this year.
“It’s a good idea to go ahead and get the flu shot as soon as it’s available to you,” Dr. Dulai says. “Not only can the flu virus make you very sick — and even kill — it takes about two weeks after you receive the vaccine for your body to build up the antibodies to fight it.”
Dulai adds there’s already been a few cases of the flu reported, so if you have to wait for any reason, try to get your shot before you start hearing reports of it becoming prevalent in your community.
Infants and children
It’s particularly important for infants and young children to get a flu shot as soon as possible because they are more vulnerable to developing serious complications from the flu, Sethness says.
“Infants can’t get a flu vaccine until they are 6 months old. If your child is receiving the flu vaccine for the first time, they have to get another shot four weeks later,” she says. “The first one provides little to no protection — it just primes their body — so it’s really important to return for the second shot in order to build up those flu-fighting antibodies.”
Caregivers (including pregnant women) and anyone who lives with or regularly interacts with infants too young to receive the flu shot should not delay receiving the vaccination.
The elderly, and anyone else with a weakened immune system, should also make the flu shot a priority, Dulai says.
“Anyone age 65 or older should receive the ‘high dose vaccine,’ which contains four times more antigens than the regular vaccine,” Dulai says. “Your provider should automatically do this, but you can ask for the high dose to make sure.”
While both doctors agree that the sooner you get the flu shot, the better, the most important thing is checking it off your preventative health to-do list.
“Flu seasons run really long, so regardless of when you get the flu shot, it’s always a smart idea to protect yourself,” Sethness says.
Current patients of UCHealth can make a same-day nurse appointment to receive the flu shot or come to one of our many convenient flu clinics. It’s easy to schedule an appointment using the My Health Connection patient portal or the UCHealth app. If you’re a new patient, find the UCHealth primary care location closest to you and call to schedule your flu shot today.