Flu shots are here! Last month’s article ended with an initial discussion of flu season. Now that we’re in September, it is time to have the full discussion about flu season and flu vaccines.
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 now offering flu shots to our patients. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, NOW is the time to get your flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control recommends everyone over the age of 6 months to 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 HealthTexas Holy Cross Clinic, we will have flu shots available for those 6 years and older.
As in previous years, there is a vaccine available for those with egg allergies–be sure to ask about that at your pharmacy. 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. Despite decreasing numbers of COVID infections, people with these conditions are still at increased risk and should reduce their risk for flu, as well.
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.
And, as in previous months, I would like to remind you about protecting yourselves from COVID-19. Wear your masks, stay away from large crowds, wash your hands often, and stay home if you are not feeling well. Current guidelines still recommend testing for COVID-19 only with symptoms, so call your doctor if you aren’t feeling well and get guidance about what is best for you.
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.
Michael Dominguez, MD, FAAFP is board certified in Family Medicine. His office is located at HealthTexas Medical Group, 590 N. General McMullen, 78228, phone: 210-249-0212.