Flu SeasonIt’s an annual rite of passage – football season, fall leaf peeping, apple orchards, and … cold and flu season. Harsh but true!

Although flu shots have proven to be the best way to teach your immune system to fight back if exposed to the flu virus, many Hoosiers skip it. Maybe you or someone in your family is one of them. “I don’t have time,” you might say. “I hate needles,” your spouse says. “Hey, I didn’t get one last year and I was fine,” someone else adds.

Looking at the facts might make everyone think again. During the 2016-17 flu season, more than 100 children in the U.S. died as a result of the flu, and thousands more were hospitalized for severe illness or complications from the virus. And it’s not just about children: More than 100 million workdays are lost to the flu each year. Add to those stats the countless people who just feel lousy for days at a time thanks to the flu, and suddenly a little time out of your day and a little stick in your arm seems pretty worthwhile?

So, make plans to get your shot now. And, as you do, here are a few more things to keep in mind.

  1. Every year the vaccine mixture changes slightly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in late August which strains of the flu virus would be in this year’s vaccine.
  2. Everyone over 6 months of age should be immunized. Some people are at higher risk for getting the flu and therefore have even more reason to get the flu shot. Those include children younger than 5, adults 65 and older, pregnant women, Native Americans, and people living in nursing homes or other long-term care settings.
  3. Flu season usually lasts from October through May. It’s best to get the flu shot as soon as it’s available, as it takes about two weeks after the shot for the protection to work.
  4. Getting the flu shot yourself also protects people around you, including those who are more likely to get seriously ill from the flu.
  5. In addition to getting a flu shot, you can do other things to keep from getting the flu: Stay away from sick people, and wash your hands to reduce the spread of germs.
  6. Flu shots are offered in many locations in Indiana, including your doctor’s office, clinics, health departments, and many pharmacies and grocery stores. To find a location near you, visit https://vaccinefinder.org/.
  7. Most health plans, including MDwise, cover flu shots with no co-pays. Ask your provider if this option is available to you.