Last week alone, some 600 students and teachers stayed home from an Oak Park school due to a flu-like illness. And, doctors have said that the flu is hitting early and hitting hard in Chicago.

A potential problem could be that the current flu vaccine is notably less effective than previous vaccines, according to officials with the Centers for Disease Control. The flu virus has yet again mutated, making fighting the debilitating illness even more difficult.

That said, perhaps you’re one of those people who has been on the fence about getting a vaccine. It’s December, so is it even worth it? Well, looks like the answer is yes, it’s definitely worth it – even though there’s been a mutation in the key virus intended to be stopped by the shot Flu shots are typically offered from September to mid-November, but there is some wisdom in getting the flu shot even in the mid-winter. That’s because flu season runs from October to May. And while it is true that you could get the shot and still get a strain of flu that is not covered by the shot, it’s also true that the shot will still protect you against several common types of the illness.

Who Should Get the Flu Vaccine?

Generally speaking, everyone age 6 months and older can get the shot. The very young, the very old, the immunocompromised and those who are pregnant might want to seriously consider staying inoculated. There are lots of rules for kids who get the shot, but a doctor can guide you on the best path.

Why is this a big deal?

Last week was National Influenza Vaccination Week. The Centers for Disease Control implemented the program to remind people that even in December there is some value to getting the shot. After all, there are several more months of staying indoors ahead of us now that winter is in full onslaught.

Flu vaccines take one to two weeks to become effective, so plan accordingly and in the meantime, stay away from sick people and wash your hands frequently.