5 Things You Need to Know About the Flu Shot

October 31, 2019

Flu season is here. To help you prepare, CUIMC Today talked to Kathleen Crowley, DrPH, MPH, PA-C, associate vice president for environmental health and safety, about when to get your flu shot, what’s new with the vaccine this year, and more. 

Recent media reports say Australia had its worst flu season yet—and that could be an indication of the flu season to come in the United States. With this in mind, when is the ideal time to get a flu shot?

Early vaccination is still the best way to prevent flu transmission. According to the CDC, the ideal time is October, but any time from September to November is good. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against influenza virus infection. Washington Heights is home to a large international population and the flu can be brought to the area and spread by travelers. Cases have been reported among students, staff, and patients as early as September.

What improvements have been made to the flu shot?

In recent years, the technology for producing the vaccine has become more efficient. About 20% of the U.S. flu vaccine supply for 2019-20, including the vaccine we provide, will be produced in cell culture, which is a change from egg culture. The quadrivalent flu vaccine, which protects you from four flu strains, is being offered at the medical center. 

What should you do if you come down with the flu?

Contact your health care provider within 48 hours. A new one-dose antiviral medication for people 12 years and older can be prescribed to make you feel better faster and it may prevent serious complications. 

If you get the flu shot and still get the flu, is it true the virus will be milder? 

You can still get the flu if you've had a flu shot because it will not provide 100% protection. However, flu vaccination has been shown in several studies to reduce severity of illness among people who get vaccinated.

Can the flu shot make you sick?

The “flu shot” can’t give you the flu. You may have side effects. Read more on the CDC website. Getting vaccinated yourself may also protect people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like babies and young children, older people, and people with certain chronic health conditions.

The flu shot is free and widely available on campus. View schedule and locations.