Flu season is upon us. If you’ve ever had influenza – think high fever, body aches, cough and difficulty breathing – it’s something you want to avoid. The condition can be mild, but it can also be severe enough to send you to the hospital. Simply put, the flu can be dangerous – especially for older adults and young children. In addition to washing your hands regularly, keeping hands away from your mouth and eyes, and covering your mouth when you cough, getting the flu vaccine is your best defense against contracting or spreading the flu.
Flu Vaccine Effectiveness and Side Effects
Vaccines are a way to build up your body’s natural immunity – and to protect against serious illnesses and complications from diseases. When you follow recommendations for vaccinations, you gain vital protection for your health. The Centers for Disease Control conducts yearly research to determine flu vaccine effectiveness. Although the vaccine’s ability to fight the flu does change from season to season, recent studies show a 40 to 60% reduction of flu risk among the general population. But there are many other benefits to getting the flu shot including reducing severity if you do come down with the flu, reducing your risk of hospitalization, and protecting those around you, among others.
Flu vaccine side effects can occur because your body is learning to fight off a particular strain of the virus. Most flu shot reactions are mild and include soreness, redness, and/or swelling at the injection site, low-grade fever, headache, nausea, muscle aches, and fatigue. But keep in mind that the flu can cause a very high fever, chills, cough, sore throat, muscle or body aches, headaches and more, which are much serious than the potential side effects that can come along with the vaccine. Click here for more flu vaccine safety information.
Why You Need It
The bottom line: Flu vaccines are more important now than ever before for two very important reasons. First, younger children and older adults are at-risk populations for being admitted to the hospital with the flu. With the potential for the coronavirus spread increasing into the winter months, it’s very important to keep hospital beds open and available – ensuring people with COVID-19 get the care they need.
It can also be hard to distinguish whether your symptoms are from influenza or COVID-19. While COVID-19 often has specific symptoms like loss of taste or smell, not everyone experiences them. Getting the flu vaccine will reduce the number of people who need to be seen in urgent care and the emergency room for COVID testing and reduces the number of people who will be hospitalized or die from the flu.
Where to Get It
It’s not too early to be thinking about getting your flu shot – the flu vaccine is available at all Piedmont Urgent Care locations! Flu vaccines are recommended starting in October before peak flu season (typically in January and February), but it can always potentially occur sooner. If you do come down with the flu, getting the flu vaccine can lessen the severity of symptoms and can also provide some protection for future flu seasons. When it comes to taking care of your health, vaccines are a simple and relatively painless way to protect yourself – and provide a better flu defense for the whole community.