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Flu Shot FAQs
Flu Shot FAQ: Dr. Pundt Answers All Your Flu Shot Questions
Summer 2018 has come to a close, which means the cool days and even cooler nights of fall are here. While this time of year often ushers in a return to routine and the chance to breathe again after a busy summer, it also brings with it the reemergence of influenza, commonly referred to as “the flu.” Flu viruses are most common during the fall and winter months, with activity typically increasing in October and often not dwindling until April or May. So, what can you do to decrease your chances of getting sick this year? Aside from maintaining good hygiene, there’s no better defense against influenza than the flu shot.
At ConvenientMD, we get a lot of inquiries from patients about the flu shot throughout the fall and winter months. Here are some answers to a handful of the most common questions we receive.
Q: What is the Flu Shot?
A: The flu shot—also referred to as the influenza vaccine—is given to patients annually as a means of protecting against infection from influenza viruses. New versions of the vaccine are developed twice each year due to rapid mutations in the viruses that are most prevalent at a given time. Most people should get the flu shot because it can provide a high degree of protection against influenza and also reduce the severity of symptoms in those who do get sick.
Though efficacy in children under the age of two is often debated, most experts agree that vaccinating children can help keep those around them from coming down with the influenza virus.
Q: Can I Get the Flu from a Flu Shot?
A: In short, no. This is one of the most common misconceptions about the influenza vaccine. Since the viruses injected as part of the vaccine are no longer alive, they are incapable of causing infection. In the case that a person gets sick shortly after receiving a flu shot, they were likely infected via a different source before having even gotten the shot—purely a coincidence and not a result of the influenza vaccine.
Q: Do I Really Need to Get a Flu Vaccine Each Year?
A: Yearly immunization is recommended, yes. The flu is unique in that it is not actually caused by a single virus. Rather, numerous “strains” of influenza come in and out of prominence every year and can mutate without warning, resulting in a need to manufacture targeted vaccines on a rolling basis. In other words, the flu shot you received last year at this time may be wholly ineffective against this year’s worrisome strains. Hence, we believe it’s important to get a flu shot every fall.
Q: When is the Best Time to Get the Flu Shot?
A: As it can take some time for the flu shot to reach full efficacy, we recommend patients be vaccinated before the flu season is in full swing. September and October are the most ideal months for immunization—waiting until winter may result in a less effective defense against influenza.
Q: Can I Still Get the Flu if I’ve Been Vaccinated?
A: Unfortunately, it’s still possible to contract influenza after you’ve gotten the flu shot. It takes the body approximately two weeks to build antibodies against influenza, which means those who are exposed to the virus during this period of time may still get sick. As viruses can mutate, no flu vaccine is 100% effective. The good news is that those who do end up getting sick and have been vaccinated typically do not experience symptoms as severe as those who did not get the flu shot.
Q: Are There Any Side Effects Associated with the Flu Shot?
A: Most people who receive the flu shot do not experience any side effects. For some, the area where the shot was given may become sore shortly after immunization—others may (rarely) experience muscle aches at the injection site for 1-2 days post-shot. No side effect of the flu shot can compare in severity to actual influenza symptoms.
Q: How Does Getting a Flu Shot Impact Public Health?
A: Getting the flu vaccine not only helps to ensure you stay healthy throughout the season—it helps keep the people around you healthy, too. For a portion of the population—children, the elderly and anyone who is immunosuppressed—the flu can actually result in dangerous complications and even lead to death if left untreated. It stands to reason that the fewer cases of the flu there are each year, the less likely it is these populations will come down with the virus. Thus, getting a flu shot yourself plays a large role in maintaining public health.
This flu season, take control by getting a flu shot at any ConvenientMD location in New Hampshire, Maine or Massachusetts. As a benefit to the communities we serve, ConvenientMD offers free flu shots throughout the season to anyone—with or without insurance. You never need to make an appointment to be seen by one of our treating providers, so just walk in at any time to receive your free flu shot this year!