Flu shots being given earlier this year

For many people, going to get a flu shot is an annual event.
For many people, going to get a flu shot is an annual event.

DECATUR, AL (WAFF) - Will A Flu Shot Now Last All Winter?

For many people, going to get a flu shot is an annual event. Some folks in the Decatur area say it's a yearly thing.

"I usually get one because my doctor recommends it. Ever since I became a diabetic, he recommends it every year," said Bryan Hill.

He's not alone.

"I do, and I'm a cancer survivor. I take it every year," said Lynne Griffith.

Everyone has their own reasons.

"I do take a flu shot every year. I have young children and think it's important that my health and my family stay healthy," said Brigid Steed.

Most counties have health departments which have flu shot clinics. Those shots are cheap, about $5. If you're on Medicaid, Medicare, or a kid, those shots are free.

But if you get that vaccine today, will it last throughout the winter?

Dr. Ali Hassoun is an infectious disease specialist at Huntsville Hospital.

"The flu shot should usually be given around September. We've been seeing some cases even in August with infections," said Hassoun.

There are many misconceptions about influenza and the flu shot.

"People usually say, 'Well, the flu virus happens winter time,' but if you remember our patients with swine flu when we had the main outbreak in May and June," he added.

He said it takes two to three weeks for the immunity to build up to fight infection. He said it can last for nine to 12 months.

The reason people need the vaccine every year is because what goes into it changes every year, depending on the threat. It's an opportunity to avoid a disease which, according to the journal of the American Medical Association, kills roughly 36,000 people a year.

There are some notions about flu shots the doctor would like to clear up.  One has to do with people getting the flu if they have the shot.  He said it's absolutely not true.

He also wants to lay to rest a fear about the shot being painful.  There are two kinds. One involves a shot to the muscle in the arm.  He said that intro-muscular injection can leave some soreness and redness at the sight, but you can take an over the counter pain killer before the shot and it will be fine.  He said the Nintra nasal spray may leave you with a little runny nose. He said the vaccine uses the virus that has been weakened or killed.

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