Your Questions Answered- Flu Vaccines

Oct. 19, 2022

In this column, PeaceHealth experts address current health issues and topics impacting our amazing Florence community. We hope you find it informative. If you have any suggestions for topics, please send them to Dr. Willy Foster at [email protected].

Oct. 19, 2022 — Flu season is here, and experts are concerned that it could be a rough one. So make plans to get yourself and your family vaccinated, ideally by the end of this month, and remember that it will take about two weeks for the vaccine to reach its full effect.

Who should get a flu vaccine?

Everyone 6 months and older should receive a yearly flu vaccine, with rare exceptions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Where can I get my flu vaccine?

Call your primary care provider to schedule an appointment. More information is available online at Area pharmacies also are a good option.

Why is it important to get a yearly flu shot?

Rolling up your sleeve is the surest way to prevent “catching” the flu and spreading it to others. The vaccine can significantly lower your chances of becoming sick, and even if you do get the flu, you’ll likely experience milder symptoms if you’ve been vaccinated.

Some people are at higher risk of complications from the flu, including anyone 65 years or older, pregnant people, young children, and people with certain medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease. When we get vaccinated, we protect ourselves and everyone else in our Florence community.

How effective is the flu vaccine?

How well flu vaccines work can vary from season to season based on how well the vaccines “match” the flu viruses that are circulating. When it’s a good match, vaccination provides substantial benefits by preventing the flu and serious complications.

Are there different types of flu shots? Which one should I get?

There are different types of flu vaccines, and your age or allergies to vaccines or their ingredients will determine which type you should receive.

This season, the CDC recommends higher-dose vaccines, or vaccines that can cause a higher immune response, for people 65 or older. But if the higher-dose vaccine isn’t available, the CDC recommends getting the standard-dose flu vaccine instead.

Consult with your doctor before getting your shot if you have any questions or concerns

Can a flu shot make you sick?

Flu shots cannot give you the flu. The vaccines are made either with killed viruses or with just one protein from the flu virus. Some people report mild side effects after vaccination, usually redness, soreness or swelling where the shot was given, and sometimes low-grade fever, headache or muscle aches. Serious allergic reactions to flu vaccines are very rare.

Can I get the flu vaccine at the same time as the COVID-19 vaccine or booster?

Yes, research shows it’s safe to get both at the same time. A recent study suggests that people who received the flu vaccine and an mRNA COVID-19 booster at the same time were slightly more likely to report reactions like fatigue, headache and muscle ache, than those who received just the COVID-19 booster. But these reactions were mostly mild and didn’t last long.

What else can I do to protect against the flu?

Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and dispose of the tissue in the trash. Wash your hands frequently. Avoid close contact with people who are sick, and limit contact with others when you feel sick.

Dr. Bob Pelz is medical director of Infection Prevention at PeaceHealth and an infectious disease specialist at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend.