It's not too late to get that flu shot

March 02, 2016 | by Jacqueline Ross, M.D.
Categories: Healthy Driven Life

This is the time of year when a lot of people come down with the flu.

The last thing you want is to be sick inside with the flu over the holidays. Good news! It’s not too late to protect yourself.

The big push for flu vaccines begins in the fall, ahead of the usual October-May flu season, and can reduce your chances of catching a flu virus by 70 to 90 percent.

Anyone over 6 months of age should have a flu shot, but especially pregnant women, people age 65 and older, and those with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes. In addition to the regular flu shot, there is a high-dose shot for people 65 and over -- folks who have weaker immune systems than the younger crowd.

Healthy people should definitely get flu shots. It can improve their odds of avoiding the flu, and if they do get sick, it may not be as brutal. If you don't get the flu, the people around you won't catch it from you, which is especially important for people who live or interact regularly with little kids or the elderly.

The flu can be a killer. The CDC reports that, over a period of 31 seasons between 1976 and 2007, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the U.S. range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people. Most of the deaths are among people age 65 and older, the age group most at risk for severe illness from the virus.

People ages 2 to 49 who don't care for shots may get the dose through a nasal spray, though this option isn't appropriate for people whose immune systems are compromised or women who are pregnant.

You won't get the flu from a flu shot, because the viruses used in the shot are dead or weakened and cannot make you sick. Sometimes people develop mild symptoms such as a low-grade fever, aches or a runny nose, but they don't last long. They’re easy to handle compared to the symptoms a flu virus causes.

A flu shot is not a guarantee that you won't get sick, but it does give you a distinct advantage.

Flu vaccines are available through your primary care physician. Did you already get a flu shot? Encourage others to get one by sharing this article on social media!

From flu shots to minor illnesses to school physicals, we've got you covered. Learn more about our Walk-In Clinics.

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