Make Halloween your get-a-flu-shot holiday, so shot takes full effect before the season

Anne Saker Cincinnati Enquirer Published 11:45 PM EDT Oct 21, 2018

Still haven’t squeezed in a flu shot? Treat yourself, and your family: Get it for Halloween.

The flu vaccine takes two to six weeks to power up and protect you against the virus, said Dr. Carl Fichtenbaum, an infectious-disease specialist at UC Health. So “earlier is better.”

A flu shot before Halloween gives your body time “to be fully prepared for the oncoming influenza by producing the antibodies at the right level,” he said. Experts peg the flu season between Oct.

1 and May 31. So far, flu activity appears to be low across Ohio and the United States.

Fichtenbaum said Australia, where now it’s spring, had a mild flu season. SUPPORT JOURNALISM: Subscribe today to our coverage. You’ll be glad you did.

Last flu season was the worst in more than a decade, with four child deaths in Ohio from flu. Fichtenbaum also said this year’s vaccine is a good match for the virus H1N1, expected to be the dominant actor in the soon to arrive U.S. flu season. A flu shot isn’t a guarantee against getting sick.

But the vaccine can improve the chance of avoiding the flu by as much as 40 percent. In addition, the more people who get flu shots, the better the overall protection for everyone, a phenomenon called “herd immunity.” Dr.

Jerome Adams, the nation’s surgeon general, said last month that Americans had a “social responsibility” to get the flu shot after the 2017-18 season killed 80,000 people. The website vaccinefinder.org can locate a flu-shot dispenser by ZIP code. The U.S.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has a flu-shot finder.

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