According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu causes around 140,000 to 810,000 hospitalizations and 12,000 to 61,000 deaths every year in the United States.
Getting the flu vaccine can lower your chances of getting the flu. While you can get a flu shot anytime during flu season, the timing of when to get your flu shot does matter.
When should you get a flu shot in New York?
The recommended time to get vaccinated is between early September and late October.
The flu virus is around all year, but it spreads more easily from September through the spring, and usually peaks between December and February.
It takes around 2 weeks to develop enough antibodies from the flu vaccine to protect you against the flu for the season.
You can continue to get the vaccine through late winter to early spring, so later is better than never.
Who should get vaccinated in New York this flu season?
Almost everyone aged 6 months or older can benefit from being vaccinated against the flu.
Some people are at an increased risk of serious flu complications, including those who are:
Younger than 2 or older than 65
Those who are pregnant
People living in a long-term care facility
People with the following conditions may also be at a higher risk of flu complications:
- suppressed immune system
- chronic lung disease
- metabolic syndrome
- heart, kidney, or liver disease
- HIV or AIDS
- a neurologic condition
- sickle cell disease or other blood disorders
The flu vaccine is safe for most people who are pregnant or have a chronic health condition, but you should consult your OBGYN or doctor.
Who shouldn’t get the flu vaccine in New York?
If you’re currently feeling sick, have a severe allergy to any of the ingredients that may be used in the vaccine, including:
- egg protein
- monosodium glutamate (MSG)
- antibiotics, including neomycin and gentamicin
- polysorbate 80
Children under the age of 6 months old shouldn’t be vaccinated.
The flu vaccine in available by injection or nasal spray.
The nasal spray contains a weakened live virus. It shouldn’t be taken by people who:
- are younger than 2 or older than 50 years
- are 2 to 4 years old and have asthma
- are 2 to 17 years old and take medications containing aspirin or salicylate
- are pregnant
- have a suppressed immune system
- are in close contact with someone with a suppressed immune system
- have taken antiviral drugs for the flu within the past 48 hours
Talk to your local New York doctor about the pros and cons of the nasal spray vaccine if you have any of the following:
- asthma or chronic lung disease
- a neurologic or neuromuscular disorder
- a blood disorder
- heart, kidney, or liver disease
How does the flu shot work?
Flu shots tell your immune system to produce antibodies against a specific strain of the flu. If you’re exposed to this particular flu virus later, you’ll already have antibodies ready to fight off the virus.
You’ll have the most antibodies 1 to 2 months after your shot. After this time, your protection begins to decline. That’s why you it’s best to get a flu shot every year.
Each year’s vaccine is based on which strains are most likely to spread during that flu season.
The vaccine won’t protect you from every strain. But if you do get sick, it’ll likely be less severe due to the vaccine.
Getting your flu shot can help lower your risk of flu complications that could put you in the hospital.
Are there side effects to flu shots?
Most people have no reactions following the vaccine. Since there is no live virus in the flu shot, it can’t give you the flu.
Some people have a temporary reaction at the shot location, including tenderness, redness, or minor swelling. These reactions usually clear up within a couple of days.
Where can you go to get a flu shot in Brooklyn and Queens?
You can get a flu vaccine at your doctor’s office, your local pharmacy, or at urgent care centers. Urgent care centers allow for walk in flu shots to get you in and out quickly.
Some employers even provide flu shots for their employees at their workplace.
How much does the flu shot cost?
The flu shot is usually free if you have health insurance.
Even without insurance, you should be able to find a flu shot in New York for around $50.