Flu Shots Recommended Now in Advance of Flu Season

If you’re one of the people who gets a yearly flu shot, experts are recommending acting now rather than waiting until it is too late, the San Francisco Chronicle warns.

Infectious disease specialist and pediatrician at Kaiser Permanente Walnut Creek Dr. Randy Bergen pointed out that there is “no reason to wait until there’s a lot of flu going around” when speaking to the Chronicle about flu shots for the 2011-2012 season, and Immunologist with Stanford University School of Medicine Dr. David Lewis added that the virus is unpredictable in its course:

“The virus can really throw a lot of curves – even from the start of the epidemic in December to the springtime… It can change from the time it’s in the Southern Hemisphere to the time it moves to the Northern Hemisphere.”

As the flu shot gains traction and levels of vaccinated people increase each year, attitudes about the flu shot, new versions of the shot such as high-dose and inhaled versions, and flu prevention arise. Director of hospital epidemiology and infection control at UCSF Amy Nichols tells the paper:

“With all of this, the basic few rules still apply: Get vaccinated, clean your hands frequently and stay home when you’re sick. Those basic things don’t change no matter how you’re vaccinated.”

The vaccine takes two weeks from administration to onset of potential immunity, and the 2011-2012 flu shot protects against the three strains of flu expected to be common this winter in the US. Flu season peaks in January, and anyone over the age of six months should be vaccinated, the CDC recommends.