Hi, I’m Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman, the Health Officer for Anne Arundel County. Welcome to our Weekly Health Update. October is the start of flu season which means it’s time for your flu shot. Let’s dive in.
What is the flu?
The flu, or influenza, is a very contagious virus that spreads during the fall and winter. It can cause significant illness, hospitalization, and death. It spreads quickly, through contact with others and especially in crowded places. Infection occurs when you inhale droplets after an infected person coughs or sneezes, or when you have physical contact with them. Touching surfaces infected with the virus may also cause flu to spread, although this occurs less often.
What can we expect from the flu season this year?
Every year we look to countries in the Southern Hemisphere, who experience winter ahead of us, to give us a sense of what our flu season will be like. This year those countries have seen their worst flu season in five years. We suspect it’s because fewer people have immunity, either from lower vaccination rates or significantly lower infection rates over the past few years because of the Covid protection measures in place that also decreased flu transmission.
How can I protect myself?
The most effective way to protect yourself is by getting a flu shot. It’s a safe vaccine that’s been around for a long time. The flu virus changes, so vaccines are updated yearly to protect against the currently circulating strains of the virus.
Who should get the flu shot?
Annual flu shots are recommended for everyone six months and older. Flu is the most dangerous for people 65 and older, young children, pregnant women and people with chronic health problems including heart or lung disease. Even if you’re not at high risk, getting the flu shot will reduce your chances of getting sick and will protect those around you.
How can I get vaccinated?
You can get the flu shot at your doctor’s office, pharmacies, through your employer, or from the Health Department. We have two clinics coming up, one in Glen Burnie on October 15th and one in Annapolis on October 22nd.
Get your flu vaccine now to provide the best protection during this flu season. And yes, you can get your updated Covid booster shot at the same time. I know because that’s what I did.
Stay safe and be kind to yourself and others. We’ll see you next week.