Most people think of the flu as just a really bad cold. But it’s much more than that. The flu (also called the Influenza virus) can lead to hospitalization, admission to the intensive care unit and in some cases, death. It is estimated that last winter, 80,000 Americans died of flu and its complications –the disease’s highest death toll in at least four decades .
The flu is a potentially serious disease and the single best way to protect against it is to get the flu shot each year.
What is the flu shot?
The flu shot (or vaccine) is an inactivated version of the flu virus. In simple terms, think about the flu as a virus and the flu shot as a copy of the virus that has been switched off so that it can’t cause any harm. By giving the body this inactivated version of the flu, it is able to get ready to fight the real thing if it comes along.
Who should get the flu shot?
We generally recommend that everyone aged 6 months and older receive a yearly flu shot. However, individuals in the following categories are at greater risk of suffering from serious, life threatening complications of the flu virus if they don’t receive a flu shot.
- People over the age of 65
- Those with a chronic health condition, such as diabetes, asthma, or heart disease
- Those with a weakened immune system
- Healthcare workers who may be exposed to many people who are sick
- Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding
Does the flu shot stop you from getting the flu?
The short answer is No. You can still catch the flu even after getting the shot. But the most important thing to remember is that if you are unlucky enough to get the flu even after receiving the shot, the flu itself is usually a milder, less severe and shorter version of the flu than you would otherwise have experienced.
The flu virus may not stop you from getting the flu but it can dramatically make the experience much easier. By getting the flu shot in advance, the body is primed and ready to fight the virus if it happens to show up.
What are the benefits of the flu shot?
There are many reasons to get your flu shot each year. Here are just some of the more important ones
- The flu shot keeps most people from getting sick with flu
- The flu shot is an important preventive tool for people with chronic health conditions to stop them from becoming ill or hospitalized due to complications of the flu
- The flu shot can be life-saving in children
- The flu shot has been shown to reduce the severity of illness in people who get the shot but still get sick shortly afterwards
Lastly, getting vaccinated yourself may also protect the people around you. This is most important to those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like babies and young children, older people, and people with certain chronic health conditions.
That’s why it’s important to get the shot!
Does the flu shot have side effects?
While a flu vaccine cannot give you flu illness, there are a few side effects associated with getting the shot itself. Soreness, redness, swelling where the shot was given, a fever (low grade) and aches might be experienced. But these are minor symptoms that usually clear up within a few days.
Almost all people who receive influenza vaccine have no serious problems from it.
Where to get your vaccine and other little details
- We offer the flu shot to all patients that are interested in receiving one.
- The Center for Disease control (CDC) recommends that people get a flu shot by the end of October. But getting vaccinated later, however, can still be beneficial and the shot is still offered throughout the flu season, even into January or later. Speak to your doctor about this if you have any questions about timing.
- If you have any concerns or need more information about the flu shot itself, feel free to speak to one of our friendly doctors or staff members who will be more than happy to answer your questions.
- We accept all major insurance
1- The Washington post. APNewsBreak: 80,000 people died of flu last winter in US. Sept 2016
2- Center for disease control. CDC. Key Facts About Seasonal Flu Vaccine