Doctors, residents preparing for flu vaccines

Doctors, residents preparing for flu vaccines
Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 2:56 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - It’s officially fall, which means the start of flu season.

“The recommendation is that everyone six months and older should get a flu shot…This is especially important for people who are most vulnerable to severe complications, so the very young and small children and toddlers and older adults are at higher risk,” said Dr. Megan Gallagher, infectious disease physician at Baystate Medical Center.

With many people still getting vaccinated against COVID-19, we wanted to know if it’s okay to get a booster and a flu shot together.

“So you can absolutely get both the flu shot and the COVID booster at the exact same time,” Gallagher noted.

We also spoke with people living in western Massachusetts to find out if they’re planning on getting a shot to protect them against the flu this season.

“I should soon. I work in a pharmacy, so it’s really easily accessible to me,” said Kenda Elliot of Chicopee.

“Uh no, I didn’t used to get flu shots because I was allergic, but now I don’t have a problem, so I get them every year, especially now that I’m older,” added Mary Blanchette of Chicopee.

The flu shot is different each year, so we also asked Gallagher what changes people can expect.

“There has been some tweaks to it and two out of the four variants included in the vaccine have been updated…Included in the updated vaccine are protection against two influenza-A strains,” Gallagher explained.

As far as how doctors know what strains to update, Gallagher said, “Because influenza is a seasonal virus in the northern hemisphere, we look to see what’s going on in the southern hemisphere, what their flu season looked like and then use that to make predictions on what our flu season will look like here.”

The recommendation from the CDC is to get vaccinated by September or October, but if you miss that timeframe, it is never too late to protect yourself and get the shot.