SUNDAY, Oct. 28, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- With flu season looming, don't wait too long to get your flu shot, a health expert advises.
"The best way to avoid the flu is to get vaccinated," said Cindy Weston, an assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Nursing.
"When it comes to you and your family's health, it's best to take the cautious approach and get your shot," she added in a school news release.
Flu season typically lasts from fall to spring, Weston said. The outbreak may peak at various times during those seasons, but people should be vaccinated before the holidays to prevent widespread infection, she noted.
Getting a flu shot is a minor inconvenience compared to the risks posed by flu, experts say. Every year, the flu causes millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If you're not concerned about protecting yourself from the flu, think of others. Children under 6 months of age are too young to receive the flu vaccine in either mist or shot form, and other people may have severe allergies to flu vaccines or an ingredient in them.
"These people are dependent upon everyone else getting immunized in order to stay at low risk for the flu," Weston said.
If you don't like needles, don't worry. After being unavailable during the last couple of seasons, the FluMist nasal spray vaccine is an option again for most people aged 2 to 49.
Now's the ideal time to get your flu vaccination.
"It takes two weeks after the immunization to develop appropriate antibodies in the body," Weston said. "The coverage is strongest for about six months, and it will help keep you and your community safer."
There are a number of other things you can do to reduce the spread of the flu.
"It is very important to practice good hygiene," Weston said. "Washing your hands properly, covering your cough, avoiding hand contact with your face and eyes, and wiping down surfaces with disinfectant are all ways to help stop the spread of the flu."
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on flu prevention.