The flu virus is coming and as you may have seen at your local pharmacy or grocery store, it is time to battle it with the flu shot. At HealthTexas Medical Group, we will be offering flu shots by the end of the month. Now that we’re in September, it is a great time to plan to beat the flu virus early. 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 Holy Cross Clinic, we will have flu shots available for those 6 years and older.
The only exceptions are for those whose doctor discourages it due to health reasons. 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 and stop the flu virus in it’s tracks 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.
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.
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.