Doctors say time to get flu shot is now

The Berrien County Health Department encourages you to stop by to get your flu shot // WSBT 22 PHOTO

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 20% of people in the U.S. will get the flu this year.

Before the end of the month, doctors are urging people to get their flu shot. That's because it takes up to two weeks for it to fully set in so you can build your resistance to the virus.

"People start to get sick so if you wait you can potentially already be exposed to some of those flu viruses about," said Courtney Davis, Berrien County Health Dept. Deputy Health Officer. "So the sooner you get it, your body can begin to build up antibodies, have that immunity and just protect you as well as protect others. Then you're hopefully not spreading the virus more."

Flu symptoms include: fever and chills; cough, sore throat and runny or stuffy nose; muscles aches and joint pains; headaches and fatigue; nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

The virus is not just a 24 hour bug. It can take you out of school or work for a week or even two.

Doctors recommend that everyone get a flu shot every year, particularly high risk groups, including: young children, pregnant women, and people over age 65.

If left untreated, it can lead to other issues with your lung health – especially pneumonia.

"The healthy person can still carry around a virus," said Davis. "You may not get the severity of it but you can pass it to others. So if you are around nieces and nephews or friends having babies, you're visiting grandparents over the holidays – having that vaccine is protecting everyone else around you as well."

You will not get the flu from the flu shot, but doctors do say that it’s possible you will feel a little sore and not feel 100% the day after you get a flu shot. This is your body’s way of building up your immunity to the flu virus.

The flu shot will protect you throughout the entire flu season. Plus, it will reduce the length and severity of illness if you do get it.

Be sure to follow the usual washing hands & covering sneezes protocol. Stay home from work/school if you’re sick, and visit your doctor for treatment.

Flu shots are available at the Berrien County Health Department in Benton Harbor & Niles. They are open Monday through Thursday by appointment and they do walk-ins Fridays. Their phone number is (269) 926-7121.

You can also get it at many pharmacies across the area or your doctor’s office.

Most insurance companies will cover it or you’ll pay a relatively small amount.

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