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Forgot to Get That Flu Shot? It’s Not Too Late

While the optimum time to get a flu shot is in October and November, health experts say it’s still not too late for procrastinators to seek protection.

It takes about two weeks after receiving a flu vaccination for the body to develop the protective antibodies that help ward off the virus. So anyone who got a shot about now would benefit by late December, says Nina Vassilian, chief of health education for immunization programs at the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services.

In Southern California, past flu outbreaks have not peaked until mid-January to March, she said. “On the West Coast, we usually get the flu outbreak the latest. The flu usually starts on the East Coast and travels west.”

The county’s flu vaccine program for seniors and others considered at higher risk for complications from the flu--those with breathing problems, for example--officially ended Dec. 4. But free flu shots for seniors and others are still available through county health centers by calling the agency’s health information line at (800) 427-8700. The shots will be offered as long as supplies of the vaccine last, Vassilian said.

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Other people may be able to get flu shots through their employers or by seeing their physicians. People who are covered by the Medicare Part B or Medicaid programs can be reimbursed for the cost of flu shots, Vassilian said.

“It is still recommended that you go out and get a shot,” she said.


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