BATON ROUGE – Some providers are already offering the flu vaccine and shipments will increase in September. With the ongoing pandemic, doctors say this year’s flu vaccine is very important.
“We’re trying to prevent people from having two respiratory infections at the same time,” Baton Rouge General Family Medicine Dr. Rachael Kermis said.
Concerns about flu season are heightened with COVID-19. Kermis says it might be tempting to get that flu vaccine now, but this year it’s recommended that people wait until October if they can.
“Some places have started offering them now in September, but ideally we want you to kind of wait until October, because that way you get about six months of coverage with the flu shot,” she said.
Flu season starts anytime in the late fall, peaks in January or February, and sometimes continues into May. Kermis says by getting the flu shot in October, it extends coverage over when the peak of flu is happening.
“Already, COVID-19 has so many unknowns in how it attacks the body, but we know it hits the lungs pretty hard. And the flu hits the lungs hard as well. So to minimize the risk, we want to get those flu shots,” she said.
Another reason the flu vaccine is extra important this year is to not overwhelm health systems if COVID-19 cases start spiking. The flu vaccine is one of the main ways to prevent the virus. Kermis says in addition to the vaccine, practice good handwashing, wear a mask, and stay away from others who are sick.
It takes two weeks after vaccination for your body to produce antibodies that will protect you from the flu. Anyone six months and older is recommended for annual flu vaccination.