What Is the Flu Shot, and Do I Really Need to Get One Every Year?
According to the CDC, the Influenza or “Flu” Vaccine is one that will protect against the four most common influenza viruses expected to be present in the upcoming season; two A and two B viruses. In the United States, Flu season generally runs from the fall through the winter, with a peak hitting between December and February.
It can take up to two weeks to build immunity after a flu shot, so plan accordingly and get your flu shot before peak times.
Flu viruses evolve quickly, and it is important to get the most up-to-date vaccine that is available in order to stay protected. While flu vaccinations cause your immune system to create antibodies to protect against the virus, these antibodies can decline overtime, which is another great reason to get vaccinated each year. Generally speaking, antibody response against the flu lasts no longer than 8 months after vaccination.
All eligible individuals should get a flu shot, and here’s why:
- It can keep you from getting sick with the flu
- Even if you do get sick, it can reduce the severity of illness
- It can reduce the risk of flu-related hospitalization
- It is an important preventive tool for people with certain chronic conditions
- If pregnant, it can protect you and your infant for their first few months of life
- It can be life saving in children
- It can help protect those around you, including those with weakened immune systems
What Kinds of Flu Shots Are There?
- Standard-dose flu shot: manufactured using virus grown in eggs
- Cell-based flu shot: contains virus grown in cell culture, and is egg free
- Recombinant flu shot: made without flu viruses and contains three times the antigen than the standard-dose, and is egg-free
- High dose flu shot: egg-based vaccine which contains four times the antigen than the standard-dose
- Adjuvanted flu shot: egg-based vaccine made with adjuvant
- Live attenuated flu nasal spray: egg-based mist made with weakened live flu viruses
ASK YOUR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER OR PHARMACIST WHAT VACCINE TYPE MAY BE RIGHT FOR YOU!
Why Should I Get the Flu Vaccine?
According to Dr. Ted Schuck, Chief Medical Officer at Brevard Health Alliance,
In response to multiple flu pandemics the influenza vaccine was created and has been around since the 1960’s. Its safety has been proven over this extensive period of time and billions of lives have been saved with its development. According to statistics from the Mayo clinic, Flu vaccines prevented about 7.5 million illnesses, 3.7 million doctor visits, 105,000 hospital stays and 6,300 deaths in 2019-2020. The vaccine not only significantly lowers your chance of getting the flu, but also protects those around you.
Who Can Get the Flu Shot?
Flu shots are appropriate for most people, as long as you get the one approved for your age group. The CDC lists the following groups as those who should get the flu shot:
- Children over the age of 6 months
- People who are pregnant
- People with certain chronic health conditions
- People with an egg allergy
- Older adults
Mayo Clinic lists the following chronic medical conditions as indicators of potential increased risk of influenza complications:
- Cancer or undergoing cancer treatment
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Heart disease
- Cystic fibrosis
- Brain or nervous system conditions
- Kidney or liver disease
Who CANNOT Get the Flu Shot?
- Children younger than 6 months of age
- People with severe, life-threatening allergies to any ingredient in a flu vaccine (gelatin, antibiotics, or other ingredients)
- People who have had a severe allergic reaction to a flu vaccine
- These people should speak with a healthcare provider to see if there is another type of vaccine they can get to stay protected
How Effective Is the Flu Shot?
The effectiveness of the seasonal flu shot varies. This is because the four common viruses chosen to make up the flu shots, may or may not match the actual common viruses of the season. In addition, the base age and health status of the vaccinated individual can affect how much protection is provided by the vaccine.
What Are Common Side Effects of Getting the Flu Vaccine?
- Soreness, redness, and/or swelling at the injection site
- Low-grade headache
- Muscle aches
Can I Get the ‘Flu’ From the Vaccine?
Dr. Schuck answers: “Unless you received the live attenuated vaccine (nasal), there is no chance you can get the flu from the flu vaccine. What may occur are the following:
- You can get sick with another virus or bug near the time of the vaccine (adenoviruses, rhinoviruses, even coronavirus).
- Your body can create a natural and intentional immune response when exposed to the vaccine, creating antibodies against the flu. You can experience very mild symptoms (nausea, chills, headache) that are short-lived, but this is not the actual virus. This response is a positive sign that your body is doing the right thing to create antibodies.”
How Were the Common Viruses for the 2022-2023 Season Selected?
The Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccines and Related Biologic Products Advisory Committee selected the vaccine strains to be used in the 2022-2023 influenza vaccines. These selections were based on the World Health Organization’s recommended Northern Hemisphere 2022-23 influenza vaccine composition.
What are other ways to reduce my risk of getting the flu this season?
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Use an alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water is unavailable
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth
- Avoid crowds when flu is spreading
- Avoid being in close contact with others who are sick
- Cover your mouth with a tissue or your elbow when you cough or sneeze, and then wash your hands
- Regularly clean and disinfect high traffic areas and high-touch surfaces
- Practice good health habits such as getting regular exercise, getting enough sleep, drinking plenty of fluids, eating a healthy diet, and managing your stress
How Long Do I Need to Wait to Get the Flu Vaccine After the COVID-19 Vaccine?
“There is no need to wait anytime between your COVID-19 booster and flu vaccine. You can even get the vaccines on the same day. Most other vaccines can also be given simultaneously,” shares Dr. Schuck.
Where Can I Get My Flu Shot?
Along with access at local retail pharmacies, Brevard Health Alliance is here for you. All of our offices are stocked with inventory to ensure access to flu shots. As Brevard County’s only Federally Qualified Health Center, we will never turn anyone away for inability to pay for services. Please call us at 321-350-0590 to schedule your flu shot appointment.