Scared of the flu shot? Why you should overcome your fear and get one anyway.

Whether the myth that getting a flu shot gives you the flu or just a a general dislike of needles has kept you from getting a flu shot in the past, you should get one this season ASAP, health advocates say.

The pinch is worth protecting yourself because the flu can be deadly. North Carolina had 219 flu-related deaths last season, which went from October 2016 and ended in May, according to state statistics.

Now is the right time to be getting the flu shot, said Catherine Passaretti, the medical director for infection prevention with Carolinas HealthCare System. “You want to go ahead and get it now before we have tons of virus circulating out in the community.”

It takes about two weeks after getting the vaccine for a person’s immune system to build up to protect against the flu, Passaretti said.

To find a flu vaccine location search online at www.cdc.gov/flu/freeresources/flu-finder-widget.html.

Last flu season was bad because the vaccine wasn’t as protective against a particular strain, said Passaretti. The vaccine has since been modified.

Every year the flu vaccine is changed to include a mixture of strains of the virus that has circulated in prior years, Passaretti said.

The 219 flu-related deaths from last season was up from 59 deaths the prior season and 218 deaths in the 2014-15 season.

In Mecklenburg County alone there were about 10 deaths, according to the county.

Nationwide, last flu season flu activity peaked in mid-March, according to the Centers for Disease Control. That was one of the later peaks on record and flu season most commonly peaks between December and February, according to the CDC.

Anyone over 6 months of age should get a flu shot, she said. The only exclusions are for people who have documented severe reactions to prior vaccinations.

The nasal spray should not be used during the 2017-18 flu season, according to health experts.

And despite the myths you’ve heard, the flu shot does not give you the flu, Passaretti said.

But minor side effects can occur from the shot including soreness, redness or swelling where the shot was given, a low grade fever or aches, according to the CDC.

Other actions to prevent the spread of the flu include washing hands, covering coughs and sneezes and not reusing tissues and “staying home when you’re sick,” Passaretti said. Even mild symptoms can spread the flu.

Cassie Cope: 704-358-5926, @cassielcope