Flu season generally runs from October and even as late as May, with a peak in January and February. The flu can be more dangerous for certain groups of people, including the very young, the elderly, and those with chronic lung diseases like asthma and COPD. Since we are already a month into flu season, hopefully you will get yours soon if you haven't already!
The flu shot takes around 2 weeks to go into effect, to protect you from the common strains that will be most likely to go around this season. It doesn't protect against every strain, because that would be virtually impossible. There are many strains that will be less common that the flu shot for a given year will not guard against. However, once you've gone 2 weeks after your flu shot, you will be vaccinated against the most common strains for that flu season, and it's recommended by health professionals that you get one.
How does the flu shot work?
The flu shot is a vaccine that causes the development of antibodies in your body that will protect your immune system from those strains of the flu in particular. The reason it takes 2 weeks for the flu shot to work, is because it takes 2 weeks for the antibodies to fully develop.
These antibodies will stay in your blood stream for at least a year. You should get a new one every year so you can build antibodies against the common strains for that year. The shot itself contains a dead version of these strains, which causes the development of the antibodies by your immune system.
Why should someone with COPD get the flu shot?
Those with weakened immune systems or those with chronic lung diseases get hit much harder by illnesses, especially those that affect the respiratory system. Even the common cold can cause a COPD flare up, so something stronger like the flu will definitely cause some problems. A COPD flare up can be extremely dangerous, and even cause you to be submitted to the hospital.
Even if you just have a runny nose, it can drain into your lungs and cause congestion and irritation, which in those with chronic lung diseases, can cause shortness of breath and the development of even worse congestion. If gone untreated, even for a short time in someone with weakened or damaged lungs, it can advance into acute bronchitis and even pneumonia.
It's not just for your own protection – by getting a flu shot each year, you're also helping to cut down on the spread of the most common flu strains for that year. You're protecting yourself, as well as those around you. Likewise, you should try to suggest to the people you are around a lot, such as family members who live with you and coworkers, to get the flu shot as well.
Of course, you will also need to take precautions against other sicknesses, such as bacterial infections and the cold, which there is no vaccine for – just medicines that will make the symptoms more bearable.