Answering Your Questions About the Flu Shot

December 1st, 2014

Flu season is here. With chilly temperatures and harmful viruses spreading, there’s no better time to get your annual flu shot. But did you know this year’s flu shot will offer protection against H1N1 virus, in addition to two other influenza viruses that are expected to be in circulation this flu season? According to Mayo Clinic, a vaccine that protects against four strains of the virus will also be available, as will a high-dose flu vaccine for adults age 65 and older.

Influenza is a respiratory infection that can cause serious complications, particularly to young children and to older adults. Flu shots are the most effective way to prevent influenza and its complications. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months of age or older be vaccinated annually against influenza.

  1. When is the flu vaccine available? Because the flu vaccine is produced by private manufacturers, its availability depends on when production is completed. It takes up to two weeks to build immunity after a flu shot, but you can benefit from the vaccine even if you don’t get it until after flu season starts.
  2. Why do I need to get vaccinated every year? New flu vaccines are released every year to keep up with rapidly adapting flu viruses. Because flu viruses evolve so quickly, last year’s vaccine may not protect you from this year’s viruses.
  3. Who shouldn’t get a flu shot? Check with your doctor before receiving a flu shot if you’re allergic to eggs and/or you had a severe reaction to a previous flu vaccine.
  4. What are your flu vaccine delivery options? You can get a shot or a nasal spray.
  5. Who should get the flu vaccine? The CDC recommends annual flu vaccinations for everyone age 6 months or older. Vaccination is especially important for people at high risk of flu complications, including pregnant women, older adults and young children. Children between 6 months and 8 years may need two doses of flu vaccine to be fully protected. Chronic medical conditions can also increase your risk of flu complications. Here are some:

Asthma
Cancer or cancer treatment
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Cystic fibrosis
Diabetes
HIV/AIDS
Kidney or liver disease
Obesity

Seniors are among the most vulnerable members of our population when it comes to the flu and, once infected, things can escalate quickly. At BrightStar Care, we go to great lengths to adhere to the Joint Commission's Patient Safety Goals for infection prevention. If you have questions about the flu shot or infection control overall, comment below - we will be answering reader questions on our Facebook page throughout the holiday season. And, if you or a loved one is at risk because of their age and even a chronic condition and they need additional care and support this holiday season and beyond, contact our local team 24/7 and ask about our "Healthy for the Holidays" program.