It’s still summer but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is already out with a recommendation for everyone 6 months of age and older to get a flu shot.

According to Dr. Christopher Freer, the chairman of the Emergency Department at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingtson, there is no downside to getting vaccinated right now, even though it’s not even autumn.

“You’re going to have effectiveness throughout the whole season, so it’s not like if you get it now it’s too early and it won’t be effective come February if that’s when the surge hits. I think it’s better to be prepared and get it done early," he said.

“Last year there were people scrambling to try to find the flu vaccine in the middle of the epidemic. It’s better to prevent the epidemic and get everybody vaccinated before it hits.”

He said last year’s flu season was among the worst and most severe in the past 20 years, but there’s no way to know what’s in store for this upcoming flu season and whether the vaccine will be effective or not.

“I think there’s a lot of smart people working on this vaccine. Viruses do mutate, so they have an idea of what’s going on and then it can change," he said.

He noted if you look at the rate of success in matching the vaccine with the strain of flu that circulates, in most years it’s high.

“Even 50 percent, that’s a rate I think you’d take. It’s better than getting it," he said.

For most people, getting the flu is not life threatening but for those with weak or compromised immune systems, “it could end up putting you in the hospital and you could be critically ill from it.”

To avoid getting influenza, he recommends getting vaccinated and washing your hands frequently.

“The 10 most common reasons to get an infection people will say are your 10 fingers, so wash your hands as much as possible and be a germaphobe when the flu season starts coming upon us.”

Freer said he has gotten his flu shot every year for two decades and has not come down with the flu.

"Maybe I have a different immune system but I have to think it has a lot to do with me getting that vaccine every year," he said.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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