The pharmaceutical industry hasn't figured out how to make pumpkin spiced flu vaccines yet, but like the popular flavor, October is the perfect time to get one.
Maryland health officials say that flu season is lasting later and later into the spring the past few years in our state, making this month the ideal time to get vaccinated.
The influenza vaccine takes about two weeks to begin offering full protection, but then lasts for about six months. While those who got a flu shot in August or September should be OK, there's a chance it may wear off while flu season in Carroll County is still going strong well into April according to local data.
Dr. Henry Taylor, the county's deputy health officer, is urging residents to get the quadrivalent vaccine, which protects against four different strains of the virus, rather than the trivalent vaccine. The fourth strain mirrors the type of flu health officials saw last April. About 80 percent of the cases in April would've been covered by the fourth strain, but people who got the trivalent vaccine wouldn't have been covered, Taylor told us.
Our youngest and oldest residents, along with pregnant women and people with chronic medical conditions, are the most susceptible to complications from getting the flu, a viral infection that affects the throat, nose and lungs. Occasionally, the flu can be lethal. More than 100 children died from the flu during the 2016-17 flu season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Getting the flu shot is the best way to prevent against the virus. And, fortunately, it's pretty easy to do so.
You can make an appointment with your doctor, or just do a walk-in clinic at pharmacies like CVS, Rite Aid or Walgreen's or even in-house pharmacies at Walmart, Target or food markets like Giant, Weis and Safeway. Most urgent care centers offer flu shots without an appointment as well.
Flu shots will also be administered in Carroll County public schools later this month for children whose parents have signed the consent form. For the first time, high schools will also offer vaccinations. The Carroll County Health Department will also host a flu shot clinic for kids in November, primarily to catch up those who missed the dates the vaccinations were offered in schools.
Each of the five senior centers around Carroll County will also offer immunization clinics, beginning Thursday, Oct. 12, at the Mount Airy Senior and Community Center from 10 a.m. to noon. The others are noon to 2 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19, at the Taneytown senior center; 10 a.m. to noon Monday, Oct. 23, at the South Carroll Senior Center in Eldersburg; 9 a.m. to noon Thursday, Oct. 26, at the Westminster Senior Center; and 10 a.m. to noon Monday, Oct. 30, at the North Carroll Senior Center.
If you still aren't sure where to go, visit the Health Department's flu page at cchd.maryland.gov/flu/ for a complete list of everywhere you can get the vaccine in Carroll County.
Latest Carroll County Times Opinion
Even with a seasonal flu vaccine, there are common step approaches that can be taken to avoid getting sick — stay away from other people who are ill and practice good hand-washing hygiene to reduce the spread of germs. And if you do catch the flu bug, be smart. Stay home from work or school to prevent the spread of the virus to others.