Bryan Kent Cooper, ARNP, FNP-C, Family Practice Provider and Clinical Leader of Family Practice Physicians
What is the flu shot?
The flu shot is a vaccine given with a needle, usually in the arm. The seasonal flu shot protects against the three or four influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. Flu viruses are constantly changing so it’s not unusual for new flu viruses to appear each year. Getting an annual flu vaccine does not guarantee that you will not get some type of influenza, however, if you do, the symptoms will be much less severe.
What are the risks from getting a flu shot?
You cannot get the flu from a flu shot. The risk of a flu shot causing serious harm is extremely small. However, a vaccine, like any medicine, may rarely cause serious problems, such as severe allergic reactions. Almost all people who get influenza vaccine have no serious problems from it at all. Typical side effects (which last no more than a few days) that may occur include:
· Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
· Fever (low grade, meaning less than 102)
· Mild body aches
When will flu activity begin and when will it peak?
The timing of flu is very unpredictable and can vary from season to season. Flu activity most commonly peaks in the U.S. between December and February. However, seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and continue to occur as late as May.
What should I do to prepare for this flu season?
CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease. While there are many different flu viruses, the seasonal flu vaccine is designed to protect against the main flu viruses that research suggests will cause the most illness during the upcoming flu season. People should begin getting vaccinated soon after flu vaccine becomes available, ideally by October, to ensure that as many people as possible are protected before flu season begins.
In addition to getting vaccinated, you can take everyday preventive actions like staying away from sick people, frequently cleaning commonly used surfaces, and washing your hands to reduce the spread of germs. If you are sick with flu, stay home from work or school to prevent spreading flu to others.
What should I do to protect my loved ones from flu this season?
Encourage your loved ones to get vaccinated as soon as vaccine becomes available in their communities, preferably by October. Vaccination is especially important for people at high risk for serious flu complications, and their close contacts.
Children between 6 months and 8 years of age may need two doses of flu vaccine to be fully protected from flu. Your child’s doctor or other health care professional can tell you whether your child needs two doses.
Children younger than 6 months are at higher risk of serious flu complications, but are too young to get a flu vaccine. Because of this, safeguarding them from flu is especially important. If you live with or care for an infant younger than 6 months of age, you should get a flu vaccine to help protect them from flu.
In addition to getting vaccinated, you and your loved ones can take everyday preventive actions like staying away from sick people, frequently cleaning commonly used surfaces, and washing your hands to reduce the spread of germs. If you are sick with flu, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and stay home from work or school to prevent spreading influenza to others.
Flu vaccines are currently available at:
Karen I. Fryberg Tulalip Health Clinic – 360-716-4511 ext 2
Tulalip Pharmacy – 360-716-2660