Dr. Mask: Prepare for flu season
Posted August 22, 2013 5:50 p.m. EDT
Updated August 22, 2013 6:20 p.m. EDT
It's difficult to predict what's going to happen in any flu season. Cases tend to peak in late January and into February, but the virus can pop up as early as October and remain as late as May.
That's why vaccine manufacturers begin shipping out their supplies in late August. Everyone 6 months and older should get the vaccine as soon as it becomes available, especially those at high risk from complications of the flu.
Those high risk groups include children and infants, pregnant women, seniors, people with certain disabilities and people with chronic health conditions.
WRAL’s Dr. Allen Mask answers some questions about the flu.
Q. We talk about this every year, but we keep hearing people say that the flu shot gave them the flu. Is that possible?
A. The answer is no. Vaccines cannot give you the flu. Sometimes people get the vaccine, but they're infected by the virus before the vaccine has been in the system for two weeks to build up immunity.
Q. What are the three types of vaccines?
A. The two injectable forms – the type that goes down into the muscle, and the shorter needle that only penetrates the skin – both contain a dead virus. It trains the body's immune system to recognize the real thing and attack it. The nasal spray vaccine contains a weakened live virus that cannot give you the flu but perhaps can lead to minor upper respiratory symptoms. The nasal spray form is only for healthy people between the ages of 2 and 49 and not for pregnant women.
Q. Is the flu vaccine available now?
A. Pharmacies tend to be the first to get the vaccine supplies, and many are offering it right now. Call your primary care doctor or local health clinic to see when they will receive their vaccine supply.