The flu is here in Pennsylvania, but it is not too late to get a flu shot or the flu mist to try to help protect your children!
Every year is unique when it comes to influenza. Both the strains that are circulating and the timing of their arrival in a geographic area vary tremendously from year-to-year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducts studies to determine the amount of influenza in all areas of the country and publishes this on a weekly basis. If you are interested in seeing the map documenting the spread of influenza, you can check online at: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/usmap.htm.
The timing for getting your flu shot begins when the vaccine becomes available for a particular year, which is typically in late August or September. Once available, you can receive your flu shot well into the flu season, which, for Central Pennsylvania, is most frequently in the February-March timeframe. In looking at the most current map from the CDC, Pennsylvania is listed as “widespread,” meaning that the flu is actively spreading in the state a little earlier than normal.
The ideal time to get a flu vaccine is two weeks or more before exposure to the virus.This gives the body time to respond to the vaccine and have its antibody defenses at peak readiness. Here in Central Pennsylvania, now is the best time to get that flu shot as we would expect the prevalence of the flu to continue over the next month or two.Once the flu illnesses begin to wane, it is no longer as useful to get the shot, and it is probably smarter to wait until the next season.
Recommendation: Get your flu shot now!