Health Watch -- Flu Shot Season

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

Now is the time to prepare for a happy, healthy holiday season.

There's one thing you can do right now that will increase your family's chances of being healthy when the holidays come around - get a flu shot.

Peak flu season usually runs from December through March. It takes a week or two after you've had the shot before you receive full protection from the vaccine, so the best time to get a flu shot so you'll be fully protected during all of flu season is October through mid-November. The predominant strains of influenza vary from year to year, so the shot you had last year won't do you much good this season. This is a shot you need every year. The vaccine will help protect you from the flu or reduce the severity of the illness if you do catch it.

Doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say it's especially important for some groups of people to be vaccinated against the flu. The elderly, children with asthma, people with weakened immune systems and those with chronic illnesses, such as heart disease or diabetes, should be sure to get a flu shot.

Influenza is a serious illness that can be life threatening for some people, according to Dr. James Luby, a professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern. Even for those who aren't highly at risk from the flu, influenza can take you out of your daily routine for days.

You can get a flu shot from your doctor or at a number of public events that are set up through schools, churches and employers.