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Why Get A Flu Shot Now: Unusually Early Season, Already Here

(Source: CDC)

(Source: CDC, figures are national)

To all our friends who have not yet gotten their flu vaccines yet, beware: This is looking like a very good year. For the flu, that is. A bad year for its human hosts.

This year’s flu season has kicked off early and strong in Massachusetts and elsewhere. You may already be seeing those empty seats in classrooms and workplaces.

State Department of Public Health data indicate that flu is already more widespread now than at any point last year — and levels usually don’t peak until mid-February, said  Dr. Ben Kruskal, chief of infectious diseases at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates.

Given that outlook, is it too late to get a vaccine?

Absolutely not, he said. “The CDC generally recommends vaccinating through April, and that’s partly because of the variability in how bad it is and how long it lasts. This year we’re certainly having an early start; the question is whether we’ll have an early finish. The main thing is, it certainly isn’t too late. This is prime time to get it because we’re starting to see a lot of flu activity which is unusually early and unusually severe this year.”

And it takes the vaccine a couple of weeks to fully kick in?

It’s a little complicated. It takes two weeks to produce measurable antibodies, but we don’t know how quickly you get protection. It probably does take some time — you’re probably not protected the next day.

And i believe the CDC is also saying the vaccine is a good “fit” this year for the viruses that are circulating?

Yes, the strains of flu that have been isolated so far do look very much like they’re matching the vaccine well, so the vaccine should be effective in preventing the flu this season.

One concern I hear from some is that the vaccine is not as effective as once portrayed —  Continue reading