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Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

Flu Shots: It's Not Too Late

Everyone around you snuffling and sneezing? Take heart, there's still time for prevention!
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WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

It's December and everywhere you look friends and family are down with flu symptoms: fevers, body aches, and fatigue.

If you're still feeling pretty chipper yourself, great! But if you want to hedge your bets, it's good to know that even though flu season is in full swing, it's not too late for the added protection of the flu vaccine.

Recommended Related to Cold & Flu

The Flu and You: Your Urgent Response Guide

You can take all the precautions in the world, but sometimes the flu sneaks around your defenses. So what do you do when someone in your house has the flu -- or even swine flu? To give you an idea, here's a countdown of five average days with the flu. Keep in mind that this rundown is based on a typical case of seasonal flu. There's still a lot we don't know about swine flu. But so far, its symptoms seem to be pretty similar to those of common seasonal flu viruses.

Read the The Flu and You: Your Urgent Response Guide article > >

Flu viruses change from year to year. So each year, manufacturers develop a new vaccine based on predictions of what strains of  influenza viruses will be around during flu season. In the spring of 2009, the H1N1 virus spread to the U.S. too late to be included in the regular “seasonal vaccine.” So a separate vaccine - the H1N1 flu vaccine -- was developed. For the 2010-2011 flu season, the 2009 H1N1 virus strain is included in the seasonal flu vaccine.

Flu Vaccines: Shots and Mists

The best way to protect yourself against the flu is to get vaccinated, say the experts at the CDC. That means getting a flu shot or the nasal-spray flu vaccine, preferably between October and November.

Yet there's time for prevention, even now. Flu season usually peaks in February -- though it can spike anywhere from November to May. So, getting the flu vaccine later can help protect you and others from down-time with the flu bug. And you can boost the power of prevention by:

  • Scrubbing your hands often
  • Getting plenty of rest
  • Exercising most days
  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet

 

Flu Shots FAQ

Won't the flu vaccine make me sick?
Have no fear, getting vaccinated against the flu won't give you influenza. The flu shot is made of killed virus; the mist is made of  live, but weakened virus. Both vaccines may produce mild symptoms like muscle aches and a runny nose, but these symptoms are brief and far less severe than the actual flu itself.

I'm pregnant. Should I get the flu shot?
Pregnant women can be particularly vulnerable to flu complications, which include pneumonia, hospitalization, and death.

If you'll be pregnant during flu season, the CDC recommends getting vaccinated. The nasal spray flu vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women.

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