With the start of fall, we have officially entered into flu season. Did you know that according to the CDC between 71% and 85% of flu-related deaths occur in people 65 years of age and older? The flu shot is strongly recommended for aging adults, who are at a high risk of health complications from the flu. Here is everything you need to know about the flu vaccine.
Flu Shot FAQ’s
Is a flu vaccine needed every year? Absolutely, yes. The flu can cause: fever, headaches, sore throat, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and other harmful health conditions. If you get it, you can expect to bedridden for as long as a week or more. Each year a vaccine is created to prevent the common flu strain for that year. It will give you the best protection against the flu.
When should I get my flu shot? As soon as it is available each year. It is strongly recommended to get it no later than the end of October. If you do it later, don’t worry, you can and should still get the shot. The vaccine will provide protection against the strain throughout the flu season.
Where can I get the flu shot? You can get the shot at your doctor’s office, health clinics, local pharmacies (like CVS or Walgreens) and other urgent care facilities.
Can I be allergic to the flu shot? In very rare cases you may develop an allergic reaction but most people will just have a sore arm after the shot. A severe allergic reaction may include hives, swelling, or dizziness.
How much does the flu shot cost? First, check with your insurance provider to see if you are covered for a free shot. Also, check with your employer as they may offer annual shots. If you get a shot at CVS or other pharmacies you can expect to spend around $31.99. If you have Medicare Part B, you will most likely get one flu shot covered each season (check with your provider first).
Is there only one type of flu shot? No, for those aged 65+ there are actually two vaccines designed for their immune system:
- The “high dose vaccine” is designed specifically for people 65 and older and contains four times the amount of antigen as the regular flu shot. It is associated with a stronger immune response following vaccination (higher antibody production).
- The adjuvanted flu vaccine, Fluad, is made with MF59 adjuvant which is designed to help create a stronger immune response to vaccination.
Should I get the nasal spray or the injectable vaccine? The flu shot is the best way to get the vaccine into your body. The CDC recommends the injectable vaccine for the 2017-2018 flu season instead of the nasal spray.
Does the vaccine have side effects? Getting a flu shot will not give you the flu illness. The only side effect may be a sore or tender arm.
How long is the flu season? It will last throughout the fall and winter. The flu will start to break out in October and can last through May.
Can you see if the flu is near me? You can actually watch the spread of flu activity through several different sites. One site is the Flu Near you, which is a map of where flu activity and symptoms have been cited.
Can I still get the flu even after getting the vaccine? If you contract the virus before getting vaccinated, then you may get the flu. You may also become ill from another virus or even the common cold that could be severe and feel like the flu. Getting the flu shot is highly recommended.
You should contact your physician and discuss when you should get your flu shot. Keep in mind that if you protect yourself from the flu then you prevent it from spreading. Help yourself but help others just as much. Don’t wait – the flu season starts now!