As we start to feel the chill of fall around us, watch the geese fly south, and finish putting our gardens to bed, the topic of the Flu Vaccine starts to crop up in our daily conversations with patients. Should I get the Flu Shot? The answer is almost always YES! Our community goal is to prevent Flu outbreaks that could lead to hospitalization in vulnerable persons. Unfortunately, we still need to keep all our hospital beds open for COVID-19 patients this flu season. It is possible to acquire both the Flu and COVID-19 virus infections at the same time, potentially leading to severe symptoms.
2021-2022 flu season vaccination options:
- There are inactivated injectable influenza vaccines (flu shots) that are approved for people as young as 6 months old.
- Some vaccines are only approved for adults. As examples, the recombinant influenza vaccine is approved for people aged 18 years and older, and the adjuvanted and high-dose inactivated vaccines are approved for people aged 65 years and older.
- Flu shots are recommended for pregnant people
A common misunderstanding among patients is that the yearly vaccine should protect against the stomach flu— it does not— it protects against the yearly respiratory influenza. It takes about two weeks from the time of your vaccination to develop the antibodies that will provide protection from the flu. While outbreaks can occur as early as October, most activity peaks in January or later. Last year we had a very mild Flu season, likely due to everyone wearing masks indoors and limiting contact with large groups of people.
Who should get the flu vaccination?
- Everyone six months and older should consider getting a flu shot each year.
Who should NOT get the flu vaccination? There are some people for whom the vaccine is not safe. They include:
- People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs
- People who have had a severe reaction to a flu shot in the past
- People who developed Guillain-Barre’ syndrome within six weeks of getting a flu shot
- Children less than six months of age
- People who have a moderate-to-severe illness with a fever at the time of vaccination
Possible flu vaccination side effects:
- Remember that the flu shot contains an inactivated virus so you cannot get the flu from the vaccination. However, some people will experience soreness, redness, or swelling at the injection site and/or a low-grade fever or body aches. These side effects are temporary and usually subside in 48 hours.
For more information about the flu vaccine, please visit www.cdc.gov/flu