MAINE, USA — Flu season is right around the corner, but have you gotten your flu shot yet? Experts say October is the time to be getting the vaccine, before the flu starts going around.
However many across the country are tentative about getting the vaccine. Dr. James Jarvis, the senior vice president of Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center says everyone over the age of six months should receive the vaccine.
"Right now, the warning from the Center for Disease Control is that this will be a more severe flu season than we've had the past two season," said Jarvis.
Other countries like Australia have already experienced their flu seasons, and Jarvis adds that there were more noted cases than in past years, and those who had the virus had worse symptoms from the flu.
One common misconception many people have about the flu shot is that you don't need to get one every year. According Dr. Jarvis, you should be getting your vaccine each year.
"So the interesting thing about the virus that causes influenza or the flu is that it changes over time. And as it changes, our bodies no longer have immunity or the ability to fight that infection off. So that's why we have to get the flu shot every single year," said Dr. Jarvis.
As the virus, it can get worse between years, which can be dangerous to those that are more vulnerable to the impact of the symptoms of influenza.
"Key people who should be getting the vaccine though are people under twelve, because they're at higher risk for having more severe complications, and anyone over the age of 60.," said Dr. Jarvis.
Dr. Jarvis adds "Anyone who has any heart disease or lung disease like COPD or chronic bronchitis also is highly recommended to get the flu vaccine because those symptoms could have more detrimental effects than those who are healthy otherwise."
In recent years, the flu vaccine has been distributed in many places through a nasal spray. Dr. Jarvis says that method is no longer a strong alternative to the shot.
"Right now we are not recommending getting the nasal spray and that's because data showed that it's not as effective as we thought it was and that the shot was still more effective and protective. So currently at Eastern Maine Medical Center we do not supply the nasal vaccine. Because of that issue we feel the shot is better," said Dr. Jarvis.
And lastly, another myth surrounding flu shots is that if you are pregnant, you should not be getting a flu shot. According to Dr. Jarvis, it's extremely important for pregnant women to get their flu shot.
"The reason why it's important for pregnant women to get the vaccine is because after the birth of their baby, their baby can't be immunized for six months of age. So if mom was to get the flu, they could give it to their baby, and those would be the individuals who are at the highest risk of having complications including death from the flu," said Dr. Jarvis.
If there are still questions you have about getting a flu shot, be sure to contact your doctor or medical professional.