As you may have seen at your local pharmacy or grocery store it is time, for your flu shot. At HealthTexas Medical Group, we are also currently offering flu shots to all of our patients. The Centers for Disease Control recommends everyone over the age of 6 months get a flu shot. So…if you are reading this…you need a flu shot. If you have small children who can’t read yet and they are older than 6 months, they need it, too. At our Holy Cross Clinic, we will have flu shots available for those 6 years and older. Our goal is to have all of our patients vaccinated by October.
The only exceptions are for those whose doctor discourages it due to health reasons. In previous years, having an allergy to eggs was a reason to get a special flu shot. This is no longer the case—everyone can get the flu shot. Those at greatest risk are children less than 5 years old, adults over 65 and pregnant women. Certain medical conditions also increase a person’s risk for having complications from the flu. Things like asthma, chronic lung disease (COPD, emphysema, cystic fibrosis), heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, obesity and diabetes are included on the list. If you have one of these conditions, it is even more important to get your flu shot as soon as possible.
Most have heard stories from people who say, “I got the flu shot and I got the flu.” This is just not possible. The vaccine contains an inactive, or killed, virus—it can’t cause disease. Sometimes a person can get mild flu symptoms, but it is not the flu. Getting the flu can be much worse—even deadly—for those at risk. It does take about 2 weeks for the vaccine to become effective. So, a person could be exposed to the flu virus before the vaccine is fully active. Also, a flu shot received last year does not protect you during this season. The shot lasts only 6-8 months, so if you received it previously, it is no longer protecting you. There may come a time when flu shots may be offered twice year to protect throughout the year. For now, only one shot is required.
Another group at high risk for getting very sick from the flu is infants younger than 6 months. Since they can’t receive the vaccine, it is very important for those who care for them to be vaccinated. This also includes the children who live with and around these children. Many of the families I care for have multiple generations in the same home. It is important to protect everyone. The same is true for those caring for elders. I’m making sure the caregivers who accompany my patients also have a plan for getting the flu shot. They don’t want to give their parent or grandparent the flu and certainly don’t want to get the flu and leave their loved one without a caregiver.
Check with your doctor about getting the flu shot or go to your local pharmacy and inquire there. Getting the flu shot helps you, your family and the community.