Autumn is almost hereÃ¢â‚¬”get ready for football tailgates, Halloween pop-up shops, and the start of flu season. Early October through the end of May is the time of year the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re most likely to contract the dreaded virus, which can cause serious side effects such as fever and dehydration in a healthy person and can be potentially lethal to kids, the elderly, and anyone with an underlying illness like asthma or diabetes.
To cut down on transmission, the CDC now recommends that everyone over six months of age roll up their sleeves and get a flu shot. And thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s no reason to wait until the flu really sets in, which is typically in January and February. Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s much more effective the earlier in the season you get it, because your body will build up immunity sooner,Ã¢â‚¬Â explains Neica Goldberg, clinical associate professor, Department of Medicine, at the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women's Health at NYU Langone Medical Center.
Rather than a one-shot-fits-all vaccine, this year the CDC has rolled out a variety of flu shot options to keep you from spending a miserable week holed up coughing and shivering on the couch. HereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a look at whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s new.
A four-strain vaccine is available Usually flu shots are formulated to protect against three strains; the virus mutates into new strains every year, so the more strains youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re inoculated against, the better protection you have. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s why the new four-strain vax, called a quadrivalent vaccine, is a smart choice for anyone, even fit, healthy women, says Goldberg. Get it soon though; most shots are three-strain, so the quadrivalent may run out early.
An egg-free shot is an option Because the flu vaccine is grown in eggs in laboratories, people with egg allergies were unable to get inoculated. This year, an eggless version makes its debut, and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s supposed to be just as effective as the regular type, says Goldberg.
Needle-phobes can get a gentler jab A long needle typically delivers a dose of flu vaccine past your skin and into the muscle below it. Now thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a smaller needle that only pricks the skin and should cause less of that initial sting, says Goldberg. CanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t stomach needles at all? The nasal spray vaccine is still a great choice.
ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a simple way to find a vaccine provider If you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have a primary-care physician to get it from and your company doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t offer it, you can find the nearest pharmacies, community centers, and other locations that offer flu vaccine (or shop around for the cheapest option) by going to the CDCÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Flu Vaccine Finder and punching in your ZIP code.
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