How would you answer? When is flu season? You might have heard that it begins in December and often lasts through February. While that’s generally true, it’s also true that the beginning and end of the season are unpredictable. In fact, sometimes it can begin in the fall and continue through spring.

No matter the time of year, though, no one wants to end up with the flu. Coughing, chills, body ache and fever really don’t sound pleasant, do they? So what can you do to make sure that you’re spared for one more season? Get vaccinated.

Why You Need the Flu Vaccine

Admittedly, getting a flu shot also isn’t the most enjoyable thing, but it’s a very importantthing. Why? Consider some of the main reasons.

Nearly Everyone is at Risk

People of any age can come down with this illness, even if they are in good health. There are few people who are immune. More likely than not, you’re at risk for getting sick. Why take a gamble and hope that you don’t when you could decrease your risk instead?

It’s Highly Contagious

This illness is contagious and infects the nose, throat and lungs. Talking, coughing and sneezing can all spread the virus. What’s worse is that you don’t even have to be physically near someone who’s sick to get sick yourself. Simply coming into contact with a germy object will do the trick.

If you’ve been saying to yourself, “I’ll just avoid sick people and I’ll be fine,” you might want to rethink that.

It Can Be Dangerous

The virus can cause varying degrees of illness. For some, it means a miserable week or two and no work or school. For others, it can mean hospitalization…or worse. Did you know that there are several thousand flu-related deaths in the U.S. each year?

Do you see now why the vaccine is so important?

Why Get Vaccinated Every Year?

If you haven’t already, you’ll want to make sure that you get your shot for 2017-2018. You might be thinking, “I just got one last year. Is another one really necessary?” The answer is “yes.” Why?

For one, over time a person’s immune protection from a vaccination decreases. In other words, if you don’t keep your defenses strong with an annual boost, your risk of getting sick rises.

For two, the vaccine often changes to provide added protection against changes in the virus. No doubt, you want maximum protection.

Speaking of maximum protection, is there a certain time frame in which you should get your shot for the best benefit?

When to Get Vaccinated

Technically, as long as flu viruses are circulating, it’s not too late to get your shot. But, of course, it’s not the wisest choice for you to wait until the end of flu season. The longer you wait, the longer you’re at risk. Ideally, you’ll want to have it before the season is in full swing. So what’s a good time window to aim for?

December 3-9, which is actually National Influenza Vaccination Week. During this week, health care professionals, communities and families come together to encourage vaccination before the peak activity of the flu virus. Why not show your support of this noble cause by getting your vaccination during this special week?