Don’t Wait — Get Your Flu Shot Now

 

Visit one of Virginia Mason’s walk-in flu clinic locations, open now through Nov. 30.

What’s one of the best ways to stay healthy this holiday season? Get your flu shot. Flu activity is expected to increase in the coming weeks, so now’s the time for everyone – six months old and older – to get the new vaccine for 2019-2020.

Getting an annual flu shot is still the best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu. When illness from flu is reduced, so are doctors’ visits, missed work, school absences and serious complications that can lead to hospitalization. More people getting vaccinated means more people are protected from flu.

Flu.signCan flu vaccine give you the flu?

No, you can’t get the flu from getting the flu shot. All forms of flu vaccine are made from parts of the virus that can’t reproduce themselves, or inactivated (killed) viruses. However, because it takes about two weeks for people to build up immunity after they get the vaccine, some people may catch the flu during that time period.

Symptoms of a cold may also be mistakenly attributed to getting the vaccine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, side effects from the flu shot typically include mild soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site. A low-grade fever may occur in 1 to 2 percent of people.

Benefits of the flu vaccine

  • In most years the vaccine reduces the risk for getting the flu by about half.
  • Those who contract the flu despite the vaccine frequently experience a milder illness.
  • Vaccine reduces the risk of flu-associated hospitalization and mortality, which can be high among the very young, older adults and those with chronic health conditions.
  • Getting vaccinated during pregnancy not only protects the mother but also protects the baby for several months after birth, since antibodies from the mother are transmitted to the fetus via the placenta.

What can you expect if you get the flu?

Symptoms of the flu can include fever, chills, body aches, sore throat, cough, stuffy nose, headache, weakness and fatigue. Vomiting and diarrhea are less common symptoms that mostly affect children. It is also important to remember that not everyone has all the symptoms. For example, some people do not develop a fever.

How sick do people get with the flu?

Some people with the flu get very sick. Many require hospitalization and some die. Those who get very sick are often younger than five years old, or older than 65. People with chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, asthma and kidney disease – as well as pregnant woman and those in the postpartum period – can also get very sick.

How does flu spread?

People with the flu can spread the virus by sneezing or coughing, causing the release of droplets, which may be inhaled by others nearby. Touching a contaminated surface – like an infected person’s hand, a table or doorknob – and then touching your nose or mouth can also spread the virus.

When are people contagious? 

Most people are infectious starting one day prior to noticing symptoms, and up to five to seven days after symptoms begin. However, young children and those who are severely ill may shed the virus for longer periods.

When and how often should you get vaccinated?

Flu shot with childEveryone six months and older should get a flu vaccine every year by the end of October, if possible, but getting it later is still highly recommended. Some young children might need two doses of vaccine. A health care provider can advise on how many doses a child should get.

You can get a flu shot from your primary care provider, neighborhood pharmacy or by contacting your local public health department. Virginia Mason is offering walk-in flu shot clinics at several locations through Nov. 30.

Besides the shot, how can flu be prevented? 

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick and if you are sick, stay home.
  • Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze.
  • Wash hands often and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect often-used surfaces, especially when someone is sick.
  • Get plenty of restful sleep, do regular aerobic activity and take steps to ease stress.
  • Drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids and eat a well-balanced diet.

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