The flu is a contagious respiratory illness that can infect the nose, throat, and lungs. Common symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, headaches, and fatigue. Every year, millions of people get the flu, and hundreds of thousands of those are hospitalized from flu complications, such as pneumonia. Sadly, thousands of people die from flu-related causes.
In the United States, the flu season occurs in the fall and winter, typically from September through March.The best way to prevent the seasonal flu is to get vaccinated with the flu vaccine every year.The CDC recommends that everyone at least 6 months of age receives the flu vaccine by the end of October, if possible.
Many people aren’t aware that the flu vaccine can be administered by your pharmacist to anyone over the age of 12 years without a prescription. Pharmacists have been specially trained to administer vaccines just as your health care providers have. This means no waiting for a doctor’s appointment!
Let’s play myth or fact!
“The flu shot can give me the flu.”
MYTH! The flu shot cannot cause the flu. Flu vaccines are currently made two ways: either with a flu vaccine virus that has been ‘inactivated’ and therefore not infectious, or with no flu vaccine viruses at all. The most commonly reported side effects with the flu shot include soreness, redness, tenderness, or swelling in the area that you received the shot, as well as a low-grade fever, headache, and muscle soreness. These side effects are should go away within a couple days and are much less severe than experiencing the actual flu. Most patients can take an over the counter medication, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), to help with side effects, but be sure to talk to your pharmacist or doctor before starting any new medications.
“I just got a flu shot last year, I don’t need another flu shot this year.”
MYTH! The CDC recommends that everyone at least 6 months old should get a yearly flu vaccine, as a person’s immune protection from vaccination diminishes over time. Getting the flu vaccine annually is necessary to get the best protection against the flu. Remember, your pharmacist can give the flu shot to anyone at least 12 years old without a prescription!
“Having some health conditions can increase the risk of getting serious complications from the flu.”
FACT! Some health and age factors can put you at a higher risk of developing serious complications if you get the flu, therefore it is especially important to get a yearly flu vaccine. These include:
- Blood disorders (such as sickle cell anemia)
- Chronic lung disease (such as COPD)
- Endocrine disorders (such as diabetes mellitus)
- Extreme obesity
- Heart disease
- Kidney disorders
- Liver disorders
- Metabolic disorders
- Neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions
- Weakened immune system
- Adults 65 years and older
“The flu vaccine is an important preventative tool for people with chronic health conditions.”
FACT! The flu vaccine has been associated with lower rates of some heart events among people with heart disease. It has also been associated with reduced hospitalizations among people with diabetes and chronic lung disease.
“Flu vaccination helps protect women during and after pregnancy.”
FACT! Getting the flu vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of flu-associated acute respiratory infection in pregnant women. Studies have also shown that getting the flu vaccine while pregnant can reduce the risk of the baby getting the flu.
“The flu shot doesn’t work.”
MYTH! Studies have found that receiving the flu vaccine reduces the risk of doctor visits due to flu by about 40% to 60% for the overall population.
“Getting the flu shot can make my illness milder if I do end up getting sick.”
FACT! While the flu vaccination doesn’t guarantee complete protection against getting the flu, studies showed that people who did get vaccinated are less likely to get sick with the flu or hospitalized from the flu than someone who didn’t get vaccinated.
“My insurance won’t cover the flu vaccine.”
MYTH! Nearly all health insurances cover administration of the flu vaccine once per flu season. If you are uninsured, the vaccine cash price is just $30. Check with your pharmacist to see if you are covered!
Stop by today to get your flu shot for the year!