Does flu season wreak having on your immune system? During the peak of flu season, it’s estimated by the CDC that about 20% of Americans come down with the flu and around 200,000 people end up in hospitals with flu-related medical complications.
Those statistics are a big reason why it’s recommended that you get an annual flu shot. While you may read a lot of things online about flu shots, they’re absolutely safe. A common misconception is that a flu shot can actually give you the flu. It does not. A flu shot is made with an inactivated form of the flu virus; that is virus components that won’t make you sick.
What can you expect from a flu shot? Actually, there are many benefits to getting one.
- Not getting the flu: Let’s face it: the whole purpose of getting a flu shot is to avoid getting the flu. While there’s no one thing to keep you from getting it, the CDC says a flu shot is still the most effective way to prevent catching the virus.
- Getting less sick: If you do get the flu, one benefit of getting a flu shot is that the sickness you feel and the symptoms you have might be milder, than if you didn’t get a flu shot.
- Protection: By getting a flu shot, you help protect those around you, especially groups of people who can’t be vaccinated from the flu.
- Reduced risk of hospitalization: Getting a flu shot has been shown in some cases to reduce the risk of complications associated with the flu and hospitalization of groups such as senior citizens, children, people with chronic health conditions and pregnant women.
It’s also important to note that if you do get a flu shot, there are still some risks involved:
- You can still get sick: As previously mentioned, the flu shot is not a 100% guarantee of avoiding the flu and there’s still a chance you can get sick. Once you get a flu shot, it takes your immune system a few weeks to develop immunity and in that interim time, it is still possible to catch the flu.
Another reason it’s still possible to catch the flu, is sometimes the vaccine match isn’t as effective as it should be. Before flu season hits, researchers choose which strains are going to be included in that season’s flu vaccine. If the virus that circulates during the season and actually makes people sick is too different from the strain used in the vaccine, the vaccine is less effective.
- A bad reaction: Even if you get a flu shot every year, there’s still a chance you can have a negative reaction to the shot. If you do, you can usually tell within a few minutes or a few hours and you may notice wheezing, breathing difficulty, a feeling of being weak or dizzy, swelling and rash among other symptoms. If you notice any of those symptoms, making a trip to an urgent care can help you get the relief you need.
If you’re going to get a flu shot, you might be wondering when it’s best to get one. That can be a challenging call, but it’s recommended that you get one at least by the end of October. You don’t want to get one too early, because there’s a chance you’ll have reduced protection from a flu infection during the height of flu season.
If you need a flu shot, you easily get one by taking a trip to your local urgent care. More than three million Americans visit urgent care facilities each week and at an urgent care, you’ll have a short wait time. So you’ll be able to get in, get out and on with your day, better protected from the flu.