Annual influenza (flu) vaccine is recommended for everyone six months and older. This includes pregnant people that want to prevent the flu and its symptoms. For children, a yearly flu vaccine can be lifesaving, protecting them from complications requiring hospitalization.
The vaccine reduces your risk of becoming ill – or even dying from the flu. In addition, receiving the shot will keep you of the hospital, freeing up beds for COVID-19 patients and others that require vital care. Unfortunately, you can still get sick with the flu and COVID-19 simultaneously. Both illnesses are expected to spread during the fall and winter seasons.
The CDC has no official projections (yet) on how many Americans will get the flu this and next year. However, the flu has resulted in 9 million – 41 million illnesses over the last ten years. This is why it’s essential to get the flu shot as soon as possible.
The Safety of Flu Vaccines
Flu vaccines are relatively safe to receive with minor side effects. In addition, they have a proven track record of success over the last 50 years. Hundreds of millions of people have safely received flu shots, which remain essential in preventing the illness from spreading.
Here are some more safety aspects to keep in mind.
Can you get the flu from the vaccine?
Flu shots contain inactivated flu viruses, so you cannot get the flu from the vaccine. These dead viruses prompt the immune system to create antibodies, which helps the human body protect itself from future flu infections. Nasal spray vaccines (good for kids) contain weakened live viruses, so they too will not cause the flu.
A vaccinated individual may be able to avoid the flu entirely. However, if they do catch the flu, it will be mild.
Side effects of the flu injection may include:
- Headaches or migraines
- Low-grade fever
- Slight aches and pains
- Soreness in the arm
Are the vaccine ingredients safe?
The flu shot has several ingredients that work cohesively to ensure it is safe and effective.
- Aluminum salts (in safe amounts) that boost the body’s response to the vaccine
- Antibiotics (not penicillin) that prevent bacterial growth
- Egg proteins and gelatin stabilizers
- Inactivated or killed viruses that cannot cause flu
- Preservatives like formaldehyde and thimerosal (in safe doses) that prevent contamination
Many scientific studies have shown that flu ingredients are safe for most people. However, folks with egg allergies should speak to their doctors first before receiving flu vaccines.
When is the best time to get a flu vaccine?
Ideally, the best time to get a flu vaccine is in September or October. This ensures families and individuals are protected before the flu begins to spread in their respective communities. However, you can still get vaccinated in November or later, as the flu tends to peak in February of the following year. This can even continue into May, so it’s best to get vaccinated early.
The 2021-22 Flu Season
Experts predict a spike in flu cases is on the horizon. While the last flu season was relatively mild, this year is projected to see more flu cases nationwide. This is due to relaxed COVID-19 prevention measures in some states. So while it’s great to hear that COVID cases are declining on average, parts of the country will see an increase as this year ends and a new one begins.
With mask-wearing, social distancing, and school closures declining each day, there is an increased risk for flu spread. The flu is still a significant public health threat affecting children, teens, adults, and seniors. The best way to stay on track of flu activities is by visiting the CDC’s FluView.
You are also encouraged to get the flu shot as new vaccines are created every year. This year’s vaccine will be quadrivalent, which offers protection from four circulating flu strains. Vaccines are also available via shots or nasal sprays. There are even vaccines specifically designed for elderly patients that need stronger immunity.
Important Information on Flu Vaccines
Some children may need two doses of the flu vaccine for maximum protection. These are for kids six months through 8 years, and the second dose should be taken two weeks before the flu starts spreading in your area. It is best to speak with the child’s doctor on how many amounts your kid will require before getting them.
Here are some more essentials to keep in mind:
- Flu vaccines are available at doctor’s offices. Local pharmacies and health clinics also administer flu shots for the public. To find the nearest flu vaccine, visit vaccines.gov.
- Flu vaccines are usually free if you have private insurance.
- Pregnant people can get the flu shot during any trimester. However, if you are in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy, it is advised to get vaccinated as soon as possible. This will protect you and the baby from flu and its complications.
- Pregnant people should not get the nasal spray, only the injection.
- The U.S. vaccine safety monitoring systems continue to track the spread of the flu. In addition, governing bodies like the CDC will post updated information.
If you are underinsured or have no insurance, speak to your primary care physician for assistance. For Medicaid or Medicare patients, the vaccines are usually covered.
Speak with your trusted healthcare provider about which flu vaccine(s) is suitable for you and your family. Now is the right time to make a plan to get vaccinated before the flu starts spreading in your communities.
Family First ER Offers Emergecy Flu Care
Family First ER in Baytown, Texas has experienced doctors and nurses on staff committed to keeping you and yours safe during the flu season.
As your local 24/7 ER, we are always available to answer your flu-vaccine questions or concerns. Your health is our number one priority. Contact us today for more information.