An Ounce of Prevention: Now Is the Time for a Flu Shot

Diego Ponieman, M.D., M.P.H.

By: Diego Ponieman, M.D. M.P.H.

Did you know the flu vaccine takes a week or two to start working? That’s why I tell my patients to get a flu shot as soon it is available – even before flu season starts to pick up in October.

Everyone older than six months should get the flu vaccine. Here’s what you should know:

  • The vaccine – also known as the flu shot – is your best chance to protect yourself and your loved ones from influenza, a serious infection that attacks the nose, throat, and lungs and sometimes even leads to death.
  • It’s important to get a flu shot every year. A new vaccine is introduced every year to fight a specific version of flu virus; last year’s vaccine won’t necessarily protect you from this year’s flu.
  • Children under five – but especially two years or younger – pregnant women and the elderly have a greater chance of getting the flu and suffering from harsher symptoms. Make sure your loved ones get their flu shots this flu season.

If you’re unsure or have questions, talk with your primary care provider. Your doctor knows your medical history and can give the best advice for you and your family. For example, recommendations for the 2017-2018 flu season allow children as young as six months to receive the vaccination.

Many health insurance providers – including New York State Medicaid and Medicare Part B –typically cover flu shots at no or low cost, providing nearly every New Yorker with access to the flu shots that they need. In addition, many local clinics, the Health and Hospitals Corporation’s (HHC) public health clinics, and the Health Department’s immunization clinic offer the flu shot for both adults and children, while college students may be able to ask their school health centers about low-cost flu shots.

As smart as it is to get your flu shot early, it’s also never too late to get your flu shot, as the flu changes from year to year and even season to season. Flu activity can last until May. Better late than never!

In the 2016-2017 flu season, New York State had an average flu vaccination rate of 51 percent. We should do better! The flu is dangerous, but preventable. In a city of 8.5 million people, the flu can spread fast. Don’t put yourself in a position to miss work or school, or spread the flu to others!

At ACP, our network of physicians and specialists in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens are focused on delivering high-quality, culturally sensitive, patient-centered care to New York City families. Talk with your physician so that you and your loved ones are ready to stay healthy this flu season.