It’s National Influenza Week, a national awareness campaign to highlight the importance of influenza vaccination. It comes right in the middle of that time of year when the flu bug is hitting our diverse communities. Here are 8 things people should know about flu shots if they haven’t gotten their flu shot yet. Doctors from TrueCare™ are available for questions and interviews. TrueCare is a nonprofit health care provider for those who are underserved in North San Diego County and Riverside County.
1. Who Should Get a Flu Shot?
Flu vaccinations have a long history of safety and are approved by the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that most people over the age of 6 months get vaccinated against the flu each season. However, there are different flu shots for people at different stages of life, so it’s important to get a vaccine appropriate for your age. Infants over 6 months and young children require different vaccines than those for adults. Adults age 65 and older receive high-dose vaccines because they are more likely to develop complications if they contract the flu. Your care provider will ensure you receive the correct vaccine for your age.
2. Who Should Not Get a Flu Shot?
Some people have pre-existing health conditions that make it unsafe to receive a flu shot. These include a history of Guillain-Barre Syndrome, life-threatening allergies to the ingredients in the flu shot, and more. Be sure to inform your caregiver if you have a chronic health condition so they can determine if you are eligible for the shot.
Most pregnant women can safely get a flu shot. According to the CDC, people with an egg allergy can also receive the shot. If you’re not feeling well at the time of your flu vaccine appointment, tell your doctor about the symptoms and consider rescheduling your appointment.
3. When Should I Get a Flu Shot?
The best time to get vaccinated is before the flu season starts, which can vary from year to year. Generally, flu season lasts from late fall to late winter, but it can start earlier or end later. The ideal time is two to four weeks before the season starts. However, it’s never too late to get vaccinated before the season ends.
Click here to see Infographic about Flu Shots At a Glance
4. How Do Flu Shots Work?
A flu shot injects a small amount of deactivated flu virus into your body, along with other ingredients that play a role in preservation and stabilization. The deactivated virus stimulates your immune system to create antibodies that attack the virus. It takes about two weeks for the immune system to produce enough antibodies to protect against the virus.
5. What Are the Side Effects of Flu Shots?
Most people don’t experience side effects from flu shots. However, some do have negative reactions. Common responses include soreness, tenderness, and redness at the injection site, as well as muscle aches, a low fever, and headaches. These tend to be minor and short-lived. Side effects may be due to the body’s response to the flu virus or to the various ingredients in the flu shot.
In rare cases, some people may have severe reactions to a flu shot. These can range from hives, weakness, and dizziness to breathing problems and a fast heartbeat. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek emergency care as soon as possible. Based on your health status and history, it’s a good idea to weigh the benefits of getting vaccinated versus the risks – and when in doubt, ask your doctor or pharmacist. Still, for the vast majority of people, the benefits far outweigh the risks.
6. What Are the Best Treatment Options for the Flu?
If you begin experiencing flu symptoms, seek medical treatment as soon as possible, especially if you have a high risk of developing complications. When scheduling an appointment to see your doctor, let the healthcare center know you are coming in for flu treatment so it can take appropriate steps to prevent spreading the virus. At your visit, the doctor will prescribe a treatment regimen which may include an antiviral medication.
When you begin feeling sick with flu symptoms, start drinking more water and eating foods with antioxidants, such as:
Take over-the-counter medicines to treat mild symptoms such as cough, aches and low-grade fever. Get plenty of rest and sleep too. Take your temperature often to make sure it doesn’t reach dangerous levels.
7. What Is the Difference Between the Common Cold and the Flu?
The main difference is the type and severity of the symptoms. The flu almost always causes a fever; colds do not. If you have a cold, you may feel tired and run down, but usually have enough energy to go about your daily activities. Flu patients have very little energy and no appetite. The flu can also cause nausea or vomiting. Cold sufferers generally get over their symptoms within a week. Flu symptoms can last for several weeks.
8. Where Can I Find a Flu Shot Clinic Near Me?
If you feel like you’re coming down with the flu, contact TrueCare by calling or texting (760) 736-6767. We offer same-day appointments for flu shots and treatment at most of our locations. We also provide a wide range of healthcare services – from sickness care to wellness care and everything in between – for you and your family.
Click here for more on how the flu is transmitted and spreads.
TrueCare is proud to be a leader in affordable health care in North County San Diego and Riverside Counties. TrueCare provides affordable, comprehensive and culturally sensitive healthcare to more than 65,000 patients a year, many of whom are underinsured or have no medical insurance. For nearly 50 years, TrueCare has served North San Diego and South Riverside Counties with services ranging from primary care, pediatrics, women’s health, behavioral health, chiropractic treatments and dentistry as well as transportation services, community health outreach and insurance enrollment assistance. For more information, visit TrueCare's website.