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Duke Medicine: It's not too late to get the flu shot

Posted December 31, 2012

The flu season is just getting started, and it’s shaping up to be nasty. About 36,000 Americans die annually from the flu, which is why doctors like Monica Barnes-Durity, MD, a family practitioner with Duke Primary Care Morrisville, are urging people who haven’t already gotten the flu vaccine to do so now.

“It is definitely not too late,” she says. “A lot of people haven’t gotten the vaccine yet because they think the flu season hasn’t started, or they think the vaccine will give them the flu but that’s just not true.”

Others may not realize they need a new vaccination each year.

Experts prepare a new flu vaccine each year based on their scientific predictions of the virus strains that will strike. This year’s vaccine closely mimics the strains that have already been identified in many states across the country.

However, because the vaccine takes up to two weeks for the body to develop an immune response, the sooner you get the vaccine, the more protected you will be.

“People say, ‘Last time I got the flu vaccine, I got the flu,” says Barnes-Durity. “In actuality, you didn’t give your body time to arm itself. You can get the flu shot on Saturday, be in contact with someone who has the flu on Sunday, and you will get the flu or a flu-like illness.”

It’s also important to know that the vaccine is not 100 percent effective. Rather, it should keep the most severe flu symptoms at bay. “If you get any symptoms at all it will be mild but you should not get a full-blown case of the flu,” Barnes-Durity says.

For more information about the flu shot, read the full post at DukeHealth.org. Duke Medicine, Go Ask Mom's sponsor, offers health information and tips every Tuesday.

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  • seenbetterdaze Jan 3, 12:44 p.m.

    We know lots of people who got the flu shot and still got the flu...as long as a month after the shot. How can we trust vaccines when so many of our kids are getting them and then suffer after effects which seem to lead to AUTISM? There is an epidemic of AUTISM today. But the Gov. says there is no connection...just like they recommend the flu shots but people still come down with the flu. Lots of nurses refuse the shots from what we hear.