September marks the start of flu season preparedness; vaccination is recommended from now to mid-March. About 36,000 Americans die annually from the flu, which is why doctors like Monica Barnes-Durity, MD, a family medicine doctor with Duke Primary Care Morrisville, are urging people to get the flu shot.
“A lot of people haven’t gotten the vaccine yet because they think the flu season hasn’t started, or they think the vaccine will give them the flu but that’s just not true.”
Because the vaccine takes up to two weeks for the body to develop an immune response, the sooner you get the vaccine, the more protected you will be. “People say, ‘Last time I got the flu vaccine, I got the flu,” said Dr. Barnes-Durity. “In actuality, you didn’t give your body time to arm itself. You can get the flu shot on Saturday, be in contact with someone who has the flu on Sunday, and you will get the flu or a flu-like illness.”
It’s also important to know that the vaccine is not 100 percent effective. Rather, it should keep the most severe flu symptoms at bay. “If you get any symptoms at all it will be mild but you should not get a full-blown case of the flu,” Dr. Barnes-Durity said.