Don’t look now, but the 2021-22 flu season is lurking right around the corner! Yep, and thanks to COVID-19—and all the social distancing and mask-wearing that came with it—there really wasn’t a whole lot of flu going around the U.S. last year. But now, thanks to relaxed protocols across the country, it’s a whole new ballgame, leaving experts worried that we may be in for a major uptick in flu activity this fall and winter.
That means you should start making plans to get your flu shot. Duh!
Flu Shots For All
COVID-19 hogs all the headlines. But guess what? The flu is still a major public health threat and poses a risk to everyone—children, teens, adults, the elderly and pregnant people! This is why it’s not only important to get a flu shot every year, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends it for everyone 6 months and older!
Flu vaccines not only help keep you from getting sick with flu, but they help keep the people around you from getting sick. Why does that matter? Because others—like children, the elderly, or the immunocompromised—may be more vulnerable to serious flu illness and flu-related complications, such as Pneumonia, which can cause hospitalization or even death. Also, you’ve probably heard about how hospitals and medical staff are currently overrun and overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, so anything you can do to keep yourself and others healthy helps free up much needed hospital beds during a critical time.
Now here are 5 of the most popular questions about flu shots to ensure you have the answers you need to make an informed decision for you and your family.
Flu shot FAQs
1. When is flu season?
There’s no set date set, but flu season generally begins in October, peaks between December and February, and can last as late as May!1 A good rule of thumb is to get vaccinated by the end of October, and remember—it takes about 2 weeks for your body to build full flu protection after you get the shot.
2. Can a flu shot give me the flu?
No! This is a common myth and misconception, but the flu shot can give you side effects, such as: soreness, redness, tenderness or swelling at the injection site along with a low fever, headache and muscle aches. But don’t worry, side effects typically only last a day or two.
3. If it’s not a side effect, why do I feel sick after a flu shot?
It can—and often is— another respiratory virus that the flu shot doesn’t protect against, like the common cold. Also, remember it takes 2 weeks post-flu shot for your body to build full protection, so it’s very possible that you can either get exposed to the flu right before getting the shot or at some point during this two-week period.
4. Can I get the Flu shot AND the COVID-19 vaccine?
In short, yes! A longer answer: you can and you should, especially since you can get sick with COVID-19 and flu at the same time, and both are expected to be spreading this fall and winter! In fact, you can even get both shots at the same time—just use different arms to cut down on soreness.
5. Is there anyone who shouldn’t get a flu shot?
Yes. Anyone with severe, life-threatening allergies to any ingredient in a flu vaccine should not get a flu shot2 Also, anyone who has had a severe allergic reaction to a particular flu shot in the past, should not get that same flu shot again (though another flu shot may be suitable).
So don’t wait and head over to your local pharmacy to get vaccinated this fall to help prevent the spread of the flu this season! Unsure where your closest community pharmacy is located? Just check out our directory! And remember, always talk to your trusted healthcare provider about which flu vaccine is right for you and your family.