It’s beginning to look a lot like flu season! As you prepare for the holidays this year, keep in mind that a cold breeze means it may be time to get your flu vaccine.
In fact, Dec. 5 through 11, 2021, is National Influenza Vaccine Week — a much-needed reminder to protect ourselves against this seasonal illness. Below, we answer eight common questions about the flu and its vaccine.
What is the flu?
Influenza (flu for short) is a contagious respiratory disease caused by influenza viruses that create mild to severe illness by infecting the nose, throat, or lungs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Sometimes the flu can cause death.
The flu comes with symptoms similar to COVID-19, such as fever, chills, body aches, sore throat, fatigue, runny nose, and more. However, a symptom that is particular to COVID-19 is a loss of taste or smell. You may not get that with the flu.
When should I get vaccinated for the flu?
We encounter flu viruses throughout the year, says the CDC, but we’re most likely to find them during the fall and winter seasons. Some speculate this is due to the cold, dry weather and the fact that people stay indoors in the colder seasons, according to Harvard University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
To prepare for the flu, the CDC recommends getting a flu vaccine in September and no later through the end of October. The vaccine is still available during the winter months, so you can still get a vaccine even after October.
Who should get vaccinated for the flu?
Most people aged 6 months and up can get a flu vaccine, says the CDC. There are rare exceptions.
How does the vaccine work?
Like other vaccines, the flu vaccine helps your body create antibodies that would fight off flu viruses if you were to get infected. In the United States, all flu vaccines are engineered to protect you against four different kinds of flu viruses, according to the CDC.
Where can I get the flu vaccine?
Your primary care provider can provide a flu vaccine. Good Samaritan Health Centers of Gwinnett offers flu vaccines at both of our Norcross locations. Pharmacies may carry them as well.
What does it cost?
Patients at Good Samaritan Health Centers of Gwinnett can receive flu vaccines for $20. Without health insurance, flu vaccines cost around $20 to $75, according to GoodRx.
Are there any side effects?
Yes, some people experience side effects from getting the flu vaccine, but they’re usually mild and won’t last long. According to the CDC, these can be fever, nausea, muscle aches, fatigue, headache, and soreness around the injection site.
Why should I get the flu shot if I already have the COVID-19 vaccine?
Flu vaccines either contain inactive (dead) flu viruses that cannot infect you, or some proteins from a flu virus that help your body create anti-flu antibodies, according to the CDC. Therefore, the flu vaccine cannot protect you against COVID-19, and vice versa. You need both vaccines to protect you against both distinct illnesses.
Good Samaritan Health Centers of Gwinnett offers both the flu and COVID-19 vaccines, and our COVID-19 vaccines are free for our patients. Find more information about us and schedule an appointment here.