Is It Too Late to Get a Flu Shot?

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Woman sick with the flu

The flu season is well underway, and the level is illness is worse than it’s been for more than a decade.

If you have procrastinated in scheduling your vaccine, you may wonder if it’s too late.

Fortunately, getting your shot now should still provide your immune system with the boost it needs to ward off the worst of the flu.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

“While ideally it’s recommended to get vaccinated by the end of October, it’s important to know that vaccination after October can still provide protection during the peak of flu season.”

And this year, the shot might provide an especially high level of protection. Samuel Scarpino, director of life sciences at the Institute for Experiential AI at Northeastern University, tells News@Northeastern that this year’s flu vaccine “is a good match, which isn’t the case every year.”

That means the influenza virus strains that the current vaccine protects against are similar to the strains that are actually circulating this flu season.

The flu vaccine works for about six months, although its effectiveness diminishes with time. So, the silver lining to waiting is that if you get vaccinated now, your protection may remain strong in the spring, when the flu virus could still be wreaking havoc.

Brandon Dionne, associate clinical professor at Northeastern’s School of Pharmacy, tells News@Northeastern that this year’s flu season might be “biphasic.” That means the season could have two peaks instead of one.

However, it’s just as possible that we will see just one peak, and that it might already have occurred early in this flu season. As Dionne says:

“I’ve learned not to predict the future when it comes to respiratory viruses.”

The CDC says flu activity is highest right now in the Southeast and South-Central U.S. The Mid-Atlantic and South-Central West Coast also are seeing a lot of flu.

In total, there have been at least 2.8 million cases of the flu, as well as 23,000 hospitalizations and 1,300 deaths due to the flu, so far this season.

If you haven’t gotten your flu shot yet, perhaps you can schedule a shot and even cash in on it. For more, check out “6 Retailers That Will Reward You for Getting a Flu Shot in 2022.”

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