Doctors encourage getting the flu shot early

Doctors say it's important to be proactive when it comes to flu season.
Updated: Sep. 28, 2022 at 6:22 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Doctors say now is the time to take action to protect yourself from the oncoming flu season. Cases are currently few in the Wichita area, but that could change in the months ahead.

Doctors say it’s difficult to predict the severity of what we might see this flu season, but to be proactive, they’re asking people to get their flu shots now. Some U.S. health experts have noted Australia’s rough flu season this year. That could be a precursor to what happens locally.

“Typically, we see [flu cases] starting around mid-October to late October,” KU School of Medicine-Wichita Associate Professor of Internal Medicine/Director of the Center for Clinical Research Dr. Tiffany Schwasinger-Schmidt said.

Ascension Via Christi Pediatrician Dr. Amy Seery said it takes about two weeks to establish full immunity after getting a flu shot.

“So this is the perfect window for everyone to go get that flu shot and be ready in advance,” she said.

Doctors Schwasinger-Schmidt and Seery acknowledge there is exhaustion from vaccines.

“We’re all kind of getting tired of getting poked, but it’s one of the best things that you can do to protect yourself and also to protect the people around you because if you don’t get the virus, it does also reduce that transmission rate as well,” Dr. Schwasinger-Schmidt said.

The groups at the most significant risk are immunocompromised, young and old, but doctors remind the public the flu can seriously impact anyone.

“Wrong person, the wrong strain of flu can make them incredibly sick, causing a cytokine storm. So, their immune system becomes dysregulated. It can also cause significant lung inflammation.” Dr. Seery said.

It’s not just the flu that could be an issue this fall, as COVID-19 and other illnesses are still spreading in the community.

“In the hospital, we’re having kiddos coming in with RSV illnesses. There’s also a nasty strain of rhinovirus floating around that’s making a lot of kids a lot sicker than they normally might be from that virus,” Dr. Seery said.

Doctors also remind the public that it is a myth that you can get the flu from the flu shot, and if you feel any ill effects, it could be your body’s immune response ramping up. Another reminder from doctors is that there is a new COVID-19 booster shot, and if you’re going for your flu shot, you can get that booster at the same time.

Doctors say that anyone with questions about vaccinations should reach out to their physician.

Dr. Seery also said for really young kids, infants up to 2 years old, Ascension Via Christi St. Francis has a Suctioning Clinic that can reduce the impact of a stuffy nose.

“Our very young ones, less than two years old, can have really big struggles with so much of a runny nose. It makes it hard for them to breathe and eat well, so once you see one of our providers, emergency room provider, immediate care, they can give you a prescription for suctioning clinic,” she said.