Getting a Flu Shot? Here’s What You Need to Know
- 19 August 2021
Lining Up Yearly Dose Key to Avoiding Winter Illness
Getting a flu shot every year is an important part of maintaining good health throughout the winter months. Healthcare providers and government agencies recommend getting a yearly flu vaccine to both safeguard against potential personal illness, and limit the potential for exposure and spread in your own community.
The recommendations for getting a flu shot remain strong, despite an exceptionally quiet flu season in 2020-21. According to the Centers for Disease Control, during the period from late September in 2020 to late May 2021, only 0.2% of all respiratory specimens tested (1,675 of 818,939 samples) came back positive with the influenza virus. In the three previous years, positive rates topped out between 26.2 and 30.3%. In addition, hospitalizations related to the flu dropped to their lowest rate since the CDC began tracking that data in 2005.
The reasons for the drop in positive cases were easy to identify and multiple. First and foremost, COVID-19 mitigation measures — wearing masks, hand washing, reduced travel, social distancing, staying at home — contributed directly to the decline. Also, the number of people adopting flu vaccine practices continues to grow, as a record number of doses (193.8 million) were distributed in the U.S. during 2020-2021.
It’s true that getting a flu shot is easier than ever before. Many pharmacies will allow walk-in or scheduled appointments to get the vaccine on their premises without much hassle or expense. Lakeview Pharmacy is one such example and is proud to be a trusted provider of the yearly flu shot.
Lakeview Pharmacy was called on to be a COVID-19 vaccination hub in January 2020, and our trained and experienced staff will be here all fall to make sure you have the opportunity to get a flu shot to ward off potential serious illness during the upcoming winter months. We’ve prepared a Q&A to give you the specifics and let you know what you need to know when getting a flu shot for 2021-2022.
Will Getting a Flu Shot Give Me the Flu?
The answer is a clearly defined no. The yearly flu vaccine does not contain a live virus, so it’s impossible to get the flu from the shot itself. The vaccine is made from an inactivated form of the influenza virus or virus components that can’t cause infection.
Some individuals may experience side effects that typically go away in a day or two. These include low-grade fever, a swollen or tender red area around the injection point, chills, and/or headaches. These side effects show your body reacting to a stimulus that engages the antibody system, and not the beginning stages of influenza infection.
Who Should Get a Flu Shot?
The CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older should be getting the flu shot, with a few rare exceptions. Vaccination is especially important for those who are at high risk of serious complications from influenza, such as those 65 and older, pregnant women, children younger than 5, and those suffering from chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, or heart disease.
Consulting with your physician will give you a clear understanding of if you should avoid getting a flu shot, but the exceptions are rare and fall into three broad categories:
- Children less than six months of age
- Those who have experienced allergic reactions to the shot previous
- Those who have Guillain-Barre Syndrome
Why Should I Get the Flu Shot?
First and foremost, getting the vaccine will give the best chance of avoiding infection from the virus that causes influenza entirely. Secondly, if you do get infected your symptoms will likely be less severe and less impactful on your life. Vaccination will also dramatically lower your risk of complications or a potential hospitalization if you’re in one of the at-risk populations listed above.
Lastly, when you protect yourself from the flu through the shot you’re also offering a layer of protection for those around you who can’t get vaccinated. If enough people in a community get vaccinated, a group can achieve herd immunity and drastically reduce the chances of an outbreak.
When Should I Get the Flu Shot?
The flu vaccine typically offers six months of coverage, and for most of the U.S., the flu season ranges from late September through late May. While current 2021 iterations of the flu vaccine are already being shipped across the country and potentially available in some locations, it’s recommended to get the shot in mid-September or early October.
By getting a flu shot during that window, you’ll ensure coverage throughout the entire flu season — from early fall, through the winter, and into the spring. It’s never too early, however, to ask your health care provider about scheduling an appointment or asking if the shot makes sense for your particular situation.
Do I Need to Get the Shot Every Year?
Yes, for two reasons. First, your body’s immune response to influenza decreases over time. Getting a flu shot every year helps to ensure continued protection.
Secondly, the flu virus is constantly changing. The viruses that were the most prevalent in causing the flu in one year may not be the same viruses projected to be as problematic in the next year. The vaccine used for 2021-2022 has been updated to protect against the influenza viruses most likely to circulate widely in the upcoming season. Each year’s shot is different, just as each year’s strain is different. The CDC offers information on the makeup of the vaccine and the supplies available every year.
Lakeview Pharmacy, Your Trusted Local Health Resource
With a long history of serving Racine, Wis., and the surrounding area, Lakeview Pharmacy is proud to work with you and your healthcare provider to organize a time for you to receive your yearly flu vaccination.
Beyond getting a flu shot, you can find a multitude of medical options and products to address your specific needs with Lakeview Pharmacy. We have supplements to help you combat nutrient depletion and can help you come up with solutions to help patient compliance with medication plans.