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Time to Make the Flu Shot Decision

Health experts are advising people to get a flu shot now to be protected throughout flu season. Credit: DodgertonSkillhause/Morguefile
Health experts are advising people to get a flu shot now to be protected throughout flu season. Credit: DodgertonSkillhause/Morguefile
November 2, 2015

SEATTLE - The change in weather has Washingtonians preparing for the winter months and for many, that includes getting a flu vaccine. Dr. John Dunn, co-director of vaccination with Group Health Cooperative, says those who decide to be vaccinated shouldn't delay, because it takes a few weeks for it to become effective.

"There's no time like the present to do it because life gets busy, life gets away from you," says Dunn. "You may think, 'I'll come back in later,' and then just like everything else, all the sudden it's January or February you still haven't done it."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this year's flu vaccine should provide better protection from the virus than last year's vaccine. The federal government, health officials and researchers have acknowledged that no vaccine is 100 percent safe or effective.

Dr. Dunn says since the flu is usually transmitted by respiratory droplets, washing your hands often is a good habit to get into. And for those who develop flu symptoms, he has this advice:

"If you have a cough or are sneezing, you should always cough or sneeze into your elbow or into something else that you can dispose of," he says. "If you do have to cough or sneeze into your hand, make sure you wash your hands after."

In making the flu-shot decision, Dr. Dunn says it's important to consider "community immunity."

"Really, this is something that you do not just for yourself, but for everybody else," he says. "Certain groups of people, especially elderly people and the very young, are way more like to have serious complications from flu."

He says all Group Health clinics in Washington already have the flu vaccine available, and many drug and grocery stores will have it, too.

Lori Abbott, Public News Service - WA