NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It's flu shot season and drug stores are already reminding people to get vaccinated, but is it too soon?
If it seems the push for flu shots is early this year, you're right. Normally it's September or October, but this year with the threat of a second wave of COVID-19 in the fall overlapping with flu season, experts are saying flu shots are especially important this year.
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Last flu season, fewer than half of U.S. adults, 45%, got a flu vaccine, CBS2's Dr. Max Gomez reports. But because many of the symptoms of the flu and COVID-19 are similar, especially early on, doctors may not be able to tell the two apart and decide what treatment would be best.
Two simultaneous epidemics could be significantly reduced with flu shots and now the that flu vaccine is available, most experts say get one as soon as you can.
But what about some studies that suggest that flu shot immunity tends to wear off with time. Is August too soon if flu season doesn't peak until mid-winter next year?
"Ppeople over 65 or people who might be immune-compromised, undergoing chemotherapy, certain high risk groups that it may wear off after six months," said Dr. Purvi Parikh, from NYU Langone Health. "So, you know, if it's past six months, you may want to speak with your physician if it's a good idea for you to get a second flu shot or a booster."
A booster in this case just means another flu shot. There is however a higher strength flu shot for seniors age 65 and older because their immune system may not respond as vigorously to a standard vaccine.
While flu shots are free with most insurance, a booster may not be. Depends on your plan. Bottom line is it takes a few weeks to build immunity after a vaccine, so the best time to get a flu shot is as soon as you'll get it -- as in right now.
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