Protect yourself, others by getting flu shot

We admit Labor Day is barely behind us and the temperatures remain summerlike, but it’s not too early to think about getting annual flu shots.

While the flu season usually doesn’t peak until February, getting vaccinated now offers several advantages.

First, by getting the shot early, you don’t have to worry about there not being enough vaccine to go around. Second, there will be plenty of time for your system to build up the antibodies needed to fight the virus. And third, if the flu season arrives early, you’ll be prepared.

As always, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges nearly everyone 6 months and older to get vaccinated. People with severe allergies to the eggs are among the few who should avoid the shot.

This season both trivalent (three component) and quadrivalent (four component) influenza vaccines will be available. One protects against what forecasters think will be the three most prevalent strains of flu this year. The other will protect against four strains.

Manufacturers have projected they will provide 171 million to 179 million doses of vaccine for the U.S. market. But that doesn’t mean local supplies will always be readily available. So that’s another reason to get a shot as early as possible.

Getting a flu shot doesn’t mean you won’t get the flu. But being vaccinated likely will make the flu less intense, even if the researchers miss the mark slightly on which strain shows up.

In addition to getting vaccinated, you can take everyday preventive steps to avoid the flu, like staying away from sick people and washing your hands to reduce the spread of germs. If you are sick with flu, stay home from work or school to prevent spreading influenza to others.

Finally, getting vaccinated protects more than the person getting a shot.

The reason is simple. When you are protected from getting a serious case of flu, you are much less likely to spread it to other uninfected people. Thus, each flu shot has an amplified effect, protecting not only those getting the shot but also everyone they come in contact with.

For instance, an unprotected youngster carrying the virus who shows no symptoms could easily pass the flu to unvaccinated grandparents. They, in turn, could pass it among their circle of friends. A simple shot would short-circuit that chain of infection. By protecting yourself, you protect others, too.

So take the time now to get a flu shot. You will be protecting not only yourself against what can be a devastating illness but also protecting those around you.

At issue

Flu season is not too far away.

Our point

Getting vaccinated early allows time for the body to build up necessary immunity.