Ignore the Naysayers: It’s Not Too Late For That Flu Shot

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The only thing that’s been getting more negative press this winter than the flu is the flu shot. Stories abound about 2018’s vaccine being less effective than usual, leading to some grumbling about whether it’s even worth the trouble.

According to Popular Science and many other outlets, there is no debate: Getting a flu shot, even this late in the season, is still very much in your best interest.

For one thing, the idea of a “flu season” is a bit shortsighted. While flu cases peak from October to March, the flu doesn’t really have a concept of our calendar and has no problem striking at any time during the year. After developing antibodies in response to the antigens present in the vaccine—a process that takes about two weeks—you’ll be far more equipped to deal with infection both at the end of the season and beyond.

Naysayers are still hesitant to get the vaccine for another reason. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the vaccine formulated this year may only be 30 percent effective against H3N2, the most dominant flu strain in circulation. But 30 percent is better than zero percent—and there’s no guarantee you won’t get hit with another strain that the vaccine is more equipped to handle.

There are more reasons to hit your pharmacy or physician’s office for a quick poke in the arm. By getting the shot, you decrease the chances of spreading the virus from yourself to others. And if you do develop a case of the flu, symptoms could be reduced in severity.

So, no, it’s not too late to get vaccinated. Do it at your earliest convenience and then do it earlier next year. And don’t forget to wash your hands (ideally while singing "Happy Birthday"—twice).

[h/t Popular Science]