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CDC: Get The Flu Shot Early This Year

DENVER (CBS4) - It may still be summer, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is encouraging everyone to get the flu shots early this year. According to the CDC, there are signs this season could be pretty severe. It says researchers have been tracking the flu in the southern hemisphere and it has hit about two months early.

flu shot
(credit: CBS)

Experts also say the H3N2 strain is changing and could deal a potentially severe blow to those who get the flu this year.

Even though the CDC is warning people about the flu, some people still want to put off getting a shot. We reviewed some of the common excuses doctors often hear, and asked Dr. Suchitra Rao, an infectious diseases specialist with Children's Hospital to respond to them.

  1. "What if I never get sick?"

"A lot of people think they're immune to getting sick or haven't had an issue with getting sick from the flu.  And we just know that it's a highly infectious disease. and we see it every year and we know that certain people are a little bit more prone to getting the flu," Dr. Rao said.  It's really unpredictable, and the odds are stacked against you.  She added, "So children would be a great example, especially those that are in school this time of year when the weather starts getting colder and you have sort of more crowded conditions..perfect time to get sick with the flu."

  1. "I got the flu shot, then I caught the flu anyway."

"So the flu vaccine is a little bit tricky because you don't always get 100 percent protection when you get the flu vaccine, so while it may not 100 percent of the time protect you from getting the flu.   The idea is it prevents you from getting really sick from the flu. We know that the vaccine can prevent deaths, hospitalization, and it can prevent a lot of emergency department medical visits from the flu."  In other words, it's a lot like wearing a helmet, the shot is a means of protection.

  1. "Can I avoid getting vaccinated because it's too painful?"

"What I usually tell people is that if they get a vaccine, and they have a little bit of achiness that day or the next day it really tells us that's the body trying to mount a group response, so it usually gives us a sign that you've had a good response to the flu vaccine," Rao said.  Not to mention, aches and pain from catching the flu maybe a lot worse.

  1. "I got the vaccine, and shortly after got sick, why should I get the vaccine?"

"That's a common misconception that a lot of people have, the flu vaccine itself cannot give you the flu.  It might be that it's a time of year when there's a lot of viruses that are circulating and so you might be sick from it, due to the cold virus or another type of virus.  But the actual flu vaccine itself cannot give you the flu."  Some may say that some vaccines contain a live virus, but she says that's an "attenuated virus," meaning it's been modified to not give you the flu," she explained.

  1. "What if I just don't trust vaccines?"

"Think about how we've been able to minimize, get rid of so many different infectious diseases so it's one of the reasons why I became a doctor and wanted to get into infectious diseases cause we wanted to figure out ways we could keep people safe and healthy and vaccines and vaccines are really one of the best ways to do it."  In addition, she mentioned vaccines go through vigorous testing to prove they're safe for the public.

Her last recommendation is to get the shot early because it takes two weeks to become effective, and you'd be protected if there was a vaccination shortage.


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