How to Get the Most Out of Your Flu Shot This Year


With flu season approaching fast it is never too early to begin thinking about getting your flu shots.  Renown has 25 events scheduled through early December to help make it even easier for you to be vaccinated.  But just getting the vaccination isn’t the end of the story.  Did you know that there are simple things you can do to help maximize the effectiveness of the flu vaccine?

Source: Yahoo
Source: Yahoo

“The immune system, like the other systems in our body, is dependent on overall health, “ says Dennis Rochier, MD, Renown Medical Group. “Good nutrition, exercise, no tobacco  use, moderate alcohol intake and good sleep hygiene all contribute to a more effective immune system.”

According to Dr. Rochier, these healthy habits help improve the vaccine’s ability fight off diseases and improve the body’s immune system when it is faced with infection.

Get More Protection Out of Your Flu Shot Like This

We don’t know quite yet what sort of flu season we’ve got ahead of us, according to Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who spoke at a joint influenza press conference with the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases on Thursday. “The bottom line here is there’s one thing to know about flu: It’s unpredictable,” he said. To that end, Frieden added, “Vaccination is the single most important step everyone 6 months of age and older can take to protect themselves and their families against influenza.”

If you’ve already done that, then go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back (or arm) for getting pricked — but don’t let your flu-fighting efforts stop there. Why? Because the flu shot isn’t guaranteed to keep you healthy, as it’s far from 100 percent effective. “The vaccine is, on average, around 40, 50 percent effective — in some situations, 60 to 70 percent effective,” Arnold Monto, M.D., a professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, told Yahoo Health. (Last year’s flu shot was about 61 percent effective, according to the CDC.)

This lack of surefire protection is no excuse to forego the flu shot, though, according to some experts. “If you’ve vaccinated, you’re less likely to have a severe case of influenza,” said Amesh Adalja, M.D., an infectious disease doctor at the University of Pittsburgh. In other words, if you do develop a breakthrough infection, it will likely be a less miserable version of the flu.

So if you do add the flu shot to your fall to-do list, be sure to beef up the effectiveness of the vaccine with these simple strategies:

Get vaccinated ASAP.

Doctors used to advise waiting as long as possible for a vaccination, under the assumption that its power would wear off over time, Monto told Yahoo Health. However, he said, “Some of our studies suggest that’s not the case.” In fact, waiting too long may be a bad thing: It takes about 14 days for your body to produce antibodies against the flu virus after receiving the vaccine. “If you get the flu within two weeks of getting your shot, it’s probably because the shot hasn’t had enough time to stimulate your immune system,” Adalja said.

That means holding off until December could leave you vulnerable during the peak of flu season. “Get the vaccine whenever the vaccine is available,” Monto suggested. “Don’t play roulette with trying to get it too late, because we might have an early season.” In 2009, for example, the flu season peaked in October, rather than around Christmas.[…]

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