Q&A: When is the right time to get a flu shot, do you really need one?

By Haley Hernandez - Health Reporter

HOUSTON - Flu season typically begins in October and lasts through May, but you can get it anytime. The flu shot is already available at most local pharmacies.

DO I REALLY NEED IT EVERY YEAR?

It’s an annual chore but until something better comes along, it should be given every year.

Oregon researchers are working to create a universal vaccine which could be given once in a lifetime.

"The way we're doing this is by having an immune response that lives in your lungs for life," OHSU told NBC News.

CAN I WAIT TO GET THE VACCINE?

The flu shot is expected to last for about seven months, which is about the length of the season, and it can lose its punch as time goes on.

Therefore, many doctors may encourage you to get the vaccine in October to keep you covered throughout the entire season.

WHO SHOULD GET THE FLU SHOT NOW?

The flu can be dangerous for these groups of people and therefore should be given early: elderly, immunosuppressed, or those who are very young, according to the CDC. 

Pregnant women need to get the shot in order to pass immunity onto the baby for the child's first six months since flu shots are not recommended until six-months-old. 

I HAVE NEVER HAD THE SHOT AND NEVER GOTTEN THE FLU.

You may feel perfectly healthy, but you can still pass the virus on to someone who cannot fight the flu.

The CDC says symptoms can begin about 2 days (but can range from 1 to 4 days)  after the virus enters the body. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Some people can be infected with the flu virus but have no symptoms. During this time, those people may still spread the virus to others. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/spread.htm

You never know who you're interacting with that could suffer major complications from exposure to the virus.

I GOT THE SHOT AND STILL GOT SICK.

Doctors say getting your flu shot is like wearing a seatbelt. It may not be 100% effective, but it's encouraged to keep the public safe.

Plus, some doctors believe patients think they have the flu when they actually have a severe cold.

To determine if you have the flu, doctors encourage you to get tested right away since an antiviral given during the early symptoms can reduce the time you’re sick.

New research also suggests taking antibiotics during flu season could make your shot less effective, according to the National Institutes of Health. They gave healthy adults the flu shot and then half of the participants antibiotics. Most of the adults who took the antibiotics showed a decreased resistance to the flu.

COMPLICATIONS FROM THE FLU CAN BE DEADLY.

During the 2017-2018 flu season, more than 79,000 people died from complications of the flu, according to the CDC. That's more than the average number of people at the Superbowl every year.

Copyright 2019 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.