Flu season runs from October to May, but it’s never too late—and rarely too early—to get your flu shot. The 2017 flu season saw 49 million cases of the flu and almost a million trips to the hospital. It’s time to get prepared. Here are five reasons to head to your doctor, clinic or pharmacy to get the flu vaccine today.
The Flu Can Be Fatal
With about 79,000 deaths, last season was one of the deadliest on record. What’s more, most children, about 80 percent, who died from the flu last season did not receive a flu vaccine.
Symptoms of the flu include, but are not limited to:
- Feeling exhausted
- Headaches and body aches
- Sore throat
The real problem comes from what the flu can cause: pneumonia. Pneumonia is a serious and sometimes deadly infection in the lungs. Kids under age 5 and older people over age 65 are at the most risk for developing pneumonia from a case of the flu. People who have other health problems like diabetes, heart disease, or lung disease are also at risk of getting pneumonia after coming down with the flu.
You Won’t Get the Flu from a Flu Vaccine
This is one of the most common myths about flu vaccines. You will not get the flu from a flu vaccine because it does not use a live virus. Instead, the flu vaccine is an inactive virus; using a dead version of the virus to show your body what the flu looks like, so that the next time your body detects the flu it can be ready to fight it off.
The vaccine may cause some side effects. The most common is soreness and swelling in the spot where you received the vaccine (usually the upper arm or shoulder muscle). Other side effects can include a low fever, body aches and headaches, which may be where the myth that the vaccine causes the flu comes from.
Developing Immunity Takes Time
Now is the best time to get a flu vaccine. Why? According to the CDC, it takes about two weeks for your body to start producing antibodies to the flu. Antibodies are proteins that the body makes after getting a flu vaccine to attack the flu.
Flu season is usually at its worst in February (though it could peak earlier, in December or January). If you get your flu vaccine early, your body will have plenty of time to prepare its defenses.
Every Flu Season Is Different
You might have had a flu vaccine last year, but you will still need one for this upcoming season. That’s because the virus mutates; meaning it changes a little bit every time it appears. That means that the antibodies your body produced last year won’t be effective in fighting this year’s strains of flu.
Another reason is that the protection the vaccine offers doesn’t last forever. Even if the virus wasn’t always mutating, you would still need a vaccine every year to ensure the effectiveness of the flu vaccine.
The Flu Shot Protects You in Other Ways
As the viruses that cause the flu are always mutating, a flu vaccine will not prevent every case of flu in every person receiving the vaccine. The vaccine’s effectiveness changes from season to season and usually reduces the chance of getting the flu by 40 to 60 percent.
It’s especially important for pregnant women to get vaccinated. Women’s immune systems go through changes when they get pregnant, so they may be at greater risk of getting the flu. A 2018 study suggests that getting vaccinated shot means a pregnant woman will be less likely to end up in the hospital from the flu, which is good for both mother and baby.
If you have not received the flu vaccine this year and would like to, please contact our Customer Service Department today at 1-888-JAI-1999, so that they may schedule you with your primary care provider. Our members may also walk-in to participating provider group, Jai Medical Center, today to receive their flu vaccine.