Should You Get a Flu Shot? (Answer: Yes)Health Hub
Note: This article was originally posted in 2019 and has been updated.
Sore throat, plugged ears, body aches, chills and fever, and a chronic hacking cough are potential symptoms of the flu
An influenza vaccination can help us avoid all these nasty symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
What’s more, getting vaccinated not only protects us, but also our family, co-workers, and community members.
Tis' the Season – In More Ways than One
Flu activity, which typically peaks between December and February, can last until May, but experts recommend getting vaccinated sooner rather than later.
Lee Health infectious disease specialist Dr. Mary Beth Saunders says people spread a flu virus without even knowing it.
“We can unknowingly infect others starting the day before we actually develop flu symptoms and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick,” Dr. Saunders says. “That’s why getting vaccinated, covering our mouths during a cough or sneeze, practicing good-hand washing habits, and staying home when we’re sick are so important to practice during flu season.”
We should remain vigilant on those safety precautions - especailly since COVID-19 is still a huge part of our lives. How COVID-19 and influenza will affect each other is still uncertain, researchers say. Remember, masks and social distancing remain essential parts of protecting yourself and others from COVID-19.
Dr. Saunders reminds us that getting re-vaccinated for the flu each season is necessary because flu strains are constantly changing – the immunity we had against a particular strain of flu last year won’t recognize a virus that’s now changed into something different now. Not only that, she adds, our immunity from the vaccination declines over time.
The Bottom Line
“Don’t let the fear of side effects or thinking you’ll get sick from the vaccine keep you from getting vaccinated,” Dr. Saunders says. “The flu vaccine DOES NOT – CANNOT — GIVE YOU THE FLU. Although the vaccine isn’t a 100 percent guarantee that you won’t get the flu, it’s still the safest and best way to protect yourself and others against influenza.”
Dr. Saunders says everyone 6 months and older should get a vaccine. Vaccination is particularly important for people who are at high risk of serious complications from influenza.
So you’ve got the flu? Where to go for care?
When you need to have your flu symptoms checked out immediately, urgent care locations typically have shorter wait times than emergency departments.
The clinics are specifically designed to treat flu symptoms quicker and easier than emergency rooms, which handle life-threatening medical issues. Our clinics follow all the latest CDC safety precautions for masks, sanitation, and social distancing.
As more seasonal residents return and ER wait times increase, urgent care clinics offer an effective, convenient option for the diagnosis and treatment of flu-related symptoms.
Go to a convenient care location when:
- You have a non-life-threatening emergency.
- You're unable to get an appointment with your primary care doctor.
- You’re not established with a primary care physician.
Go to an ER if:
- You’re having severe warning signs of flu, such as chest pain, confusion and respiratory distress or difficulty breathing.
- You or a loved one is in a high-risk group. This group includes: infants, the elderly, women who are pregnant and individuals with medical conditions that affect their ability to fight infections.