Local doctor stresses importance of flu shot

Last year's flu season was one of the deadliest in decades

ROANOKE, Va. – Make sure you get a flu shot -- that's the message health professionals are sharing as flu season gets underway.

Last year's flu season was one of the deadliest in decades, and doctors say what you do now could make a big difference in whether or not you get sick.

"We're a little early in the flu season this year and just because we're not seeing a lot of it, doesn't mean you should wait to get your flu shot," said Dr. Thomas Kerkering, Carilion's Chief of Infectious Disease.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends a yearly flu vaccine for people six months and older and the sooner you get it, the better.

"It takes your body two weeks to develop the immunity against the flu. So if I got the flu shot today, it wouldn't be until mid-November that I'm actually protected against the flu," said Dr. Kerkering. 

Last year, about 8,800 flu patients came through Carilion's system, with the Roanoke area experiencing it's peak in flu cases the week between Christmas and New Year's Day. 

Dr. Kerkering says hand washing is also key in staying healthy during flu season. Remember, the flu vaccine won't give you the flu.

"You may get a sore arm, but you just do not get the flu from the flu vaccine. it can't give you the flu. it's not a live virus and even though the flu mist is a live, but attenuated virus, it can't give you the flu either," said Dr. Kerkering

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