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Why should you get a flu vaccine every year?

Influenza or “flu” is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Millions of Americans get the flu every year; of these tens of thousands are hospitalized and thousands die from flu-related causes every year. Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others.

An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to reduce your risk of getting sick with seasonal flu and spreading it to others. Even if you still get sick with the flu, the vaccination may make your illness milder. Flu vaccination can also reduce the risk of being hospitalized with flu-related complications, particularly for children and older adults. Vaccination is particularly important for anyone who has certain chronic diseases. Flu vaccine helps protect women during and after pregnancy, and can also protect a baby after birth. A recent study showed that flu vaccination can significantly reduce a child’s risk of dying from influenza

Who should get vaccinated?

The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season. Vaccination is particularly important for people who are at high risk of serious complications from influenza:

  • Children younger than 5
  • Adults older than 65
  • Pregnant women
  • Those with chronic diseases such as asthma, COPD, heart disease, and diabetes
  • Anyone with a weakened immune system due to disease (cancer or HIV/AIDS) or medication (prednisone, chemotherapy)


What kinds of flu vaccines are available?

There are several different types of flu vaccine, but they are all administered as either a shot (injection) or as a nasal spray. Unfortunately, the nasal spray is no longer recommended by the CDC and is not being manufactured this year. Here are some terms you may come across about flu vaccines:

  • “Trivalent”–covers against three circulating strains
  • “Quadrivalent”–covers against four circulating strains
  • “High dose”–meant to offer better protection for seniors (over 65)
  • “Recombinant”–manufactured using a technique that does not require eggs (for those with egg allergies)

It is not so important which vaccine you get as it is that you get vaccinated in the first place. For most adults and children, any trivalent or quadrivalent vaccine is helpful. Access Now Urgent Care offers Afluria, which is a quadrivalent vaccine for seasonal influenza.


When should you get vaccinated?

Ideally, you should get flu vaccine before flu begins spreading in your community. “Flu season” in the United States can begin as early as October and last as late as May. It takes about two to four weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body that protect against flu, so the CDC recommends that people get vaccinated by the end of October, if possible. Getting vaccinated later, however, can still be beneficial and vaccination should continue to be offered throughout the flu season, even into January or later.


Where can you get vaccinated?

Flu vaccination is offered in many locations, including primary care offices, pediatric offices, pharmacies, and clinics. Your insurance will usually cover the cost of vaccination, but not always at all locations so it is best to check first before making an appointment. If you do not have insurance, Access Now Urgent Care offers the quadrivalent vaccine Afluria. For this month only, we are offering the vaccine at a discounted rate of $35 (compare to CVS MinuteClinic price of $45).