Take Action Tuesday

October is the best month to get your Flu shot

Influenza is a severely debilitating and sometimes deadly virus that is spread through the air (through coughing, sneezing and talking). The 2017-2018 flu season killed close to 80,000 Americans, including 180 babies, children and teenagers, the greatest number of deaths in over decade, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Getting your annual flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and others against this nasty disease. The flu shot can keep you from getting the flu, reduces the risk of flu-associated hospitalizations, is an important tool in the development of herd immunity, and if you happen to get the flu, the vaccine can reduce the severity and duration of illness.The flu shot cannot give you the flu, and while no vaccine is perfectly effective, they are much more effective at preventing influenza’s worse outcome - death.

Why do we get yearly flu shots in October? The flu is seasonal; the virus changes every year. Therefore, each year a new flu shot is developed to cover the variety of different strains that dominate the current season's infection. In the northern hemisphere, cases of the flu generally begin to appear in November, so for those living in the north it’s highly recommended to get a flu shot by the end of October. This gives the body a few weeks to create the antibodies that protect you against the flu. For this week’s Take Action Tuesday:

  • If you are able to do so, get your flu shot! It is often covered by insurance or available for a small fee at local pharmacies, find a flu clinic near you here.

  • Encourage others in your community older than 6 months of age, without any serious chronic conditions, to get the flu shot. The vaccination typically lasts six months, as the flu season often peaks in January and February, though flu activity can last as late as May.

  • Are you interested in learning more about flu vaccines?

Today's Take Action Tuesday is brought to you by 500 Women Scientists DC’s social media manager and epidemiologist Dr. Beth Linas.