Our Parish Nurse, Ann Yeo, reminds us that influenza vaccination (usually in the form of “flu shots,” or for some age groups in the form of a nasal spray) will soon be available at drugstores and medical offices. When should you get your vaccination? There are several things to consider.

First, if you, or family members in your household, are currently under treatment for serious medical problems, you should ask your medical provider for specific advice. (But reasons not to be immunized against influenza are rare.)

Second, if your family members include children (6 months to 18 years), you also should ask your medical provider for specific advice. Likewise, if anyone is pregnant. (Again, reasons not to be immunized are rare.)

Third, if you and any adult family members are basically healthy, you may want to consider delaying your flu shot until early October, so you will be more likely to have continued protection through the expected duration of flu season – which is typically late Oct. thru’ April in the Northern Hemisphere. This new suggestion is not official, but it comes from a study reported in the April 2019 Journal of Preventive Medicine, which is summarized here.

If you will be traveling in the fall, do get your vaccination as soon as it’s available, or at least 2 weeks before you leave. (Don’t plan to wait ‘til you return, because a fellow traveler may be passing along the flu virus to you while you’re gone!).

What’s the best way to avoid influenza? Get vaccinated every year! (Note, the flu vaccine requires 2 weeks to be effective; then it should “last” for at least 6 months.)

Yes, your Parish Nurse firmly believes in the value of influenza vaccinations. Here’s her story: “The only time in my adult life that I have had true influenza – not just a bad cold – was the year I had skipped the annual flu shot in the fall. Ken and I married in Honolulu in December that year, and we moved to New Zealand in February. Upon our arrival, I was suddenly laid up in a motel for a week, wracked with classic flu symptoms (fever, aches, cough, etc.) I was unable to attend the reception (a lovely afternoon tea) that my new mother-in-law had planned for us. I’ve never again skipped an annual flu shot; nor have I ever again suffered from influenza. Yes, I’m a believer in flu vaccination.”

-Ann Yeo, RN, MSN, Certified Holistic Nurse