NORFOLK, Va. - News 3 medical expert Dr. Ryan Light has already seen a case of the flu in his office in Chesapeake. He is urging everyone to get vaccinated.
"It is never too early to receive the flu shot as we cannot accurately predict when the influenza season will begin," said Dr. Light. "Get the flu shot when it is available in your area. The flu shot will last through the season. Remember that it takes up to two weeks for the vaccine to take full effect."
Dr. Light diagnosed a patient with the flu last week. While it is early in the season to see a case, he said it doesn't necessarily mean we're in for a brutal flu season.
"The flu case that I saw last week was an early reminder that flu is in the area," he said. "The flu season is predicted on the Australian flu season. The flu season in Australia this year was less severe than last year."
Dr. Light also addressed a common fear about the flu vaccine.
"The flu shot cannot give you influenza because it is not a live virus," he said. "The vaccine only contains proteins that your body will recognize that are very close to proteins found on the influenza virus. Occasionally the vaccine will cause a low-grade fever, headache, or generalized body aches. These symptoms usually go away within 24 hours and are the result of your immune system reacting to the vaccine proteins."
Dr. Light stressed that everyone should get the flu shot, especially high risk groups like:
- The elderly
- People with respiratory diseases (COPD or asthma)
- Children (ages 6 months+)
- Women who are pregnant
"In general, everyone should be vaccinated against influenza unless their doctor directly contraindicates the vaccination," he said.