Questions about the flu shot? We’ve got answers

It’s important to receive your flu shot each year under normal circumstances, but with COVID-19 circulating this year, it is even more critical that individuals protect themselves from the flu. A flu shot can help you protect yourself and those around you from contracting the flu, while also reducing your risk of being hospitalized this flu season. Since there is not currently a vaccine available for COVID-19, it is essential that you do what you can to protect yourself from other respiratory illnesses, including the flu. Frequently asked questions and educational points regarding the flu shot are addressed below to help you stay safe and healthy as we enter flu season.

Why is it important that I get a flu shot every year?

The influenza virus evolves and changes quickly, producing new strains of the flu virus each year. For this reason, new vaccines are created each year in order to better protect individuals against the new flu strains. The flu shot is designed to protect against the top three or four flu strains that are predicted to be most common for the upcoming flu season, depending on which vaccination you receive.

Even if you have received a flu shot in previous years, it is important to get your flu shot each year. This is because the immune protection provided by the flu shot you received last year decreases quickly and will not provide adequate protection for more than one flu season.

Will the flu shot protect me from COVID-19?

The flu shot will not protect you from getting COVID-19. Influenza and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by a new strain of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and the flu is caused by the influenza virus. The influenza vaccine will only protect you from potentially getting the flu. It is still important to receive this year's influenza vaccine to reduce the chances of getting the flu, which can cause further medical complications if you were to also contract COVID-19.

When is the best time for me to get my flu shot?

As flu season approaches, the CDC recommends that people 6 months or older receive the flu vaccine by the end of October. After you receive the flu vaccine, it takes about 2 weeks for antibodies to develop. These antibodies protect you from getting the flu, that’s why it is important to receive the vaccine before flu season occurs. The peak flu season can range from December to February. Even if you still have not received your flu shot, it is never too late to get one, as the influenza virus can still circulate until May.

Why is it important for healthy people to get the flu shot?

The CDC recommends the flu vaccine for healthy individuals as well. Ensuring that even healthy people are vaccinated can help contribute to the health and safety of individuals that are at a higher risk for contracting the flu. The CDC identifies young children, pregnant women, adults over the age of 65, and individuals with pre-existing health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and lung disease as high-risk. Since healthy people can contract and spread the flu to more vulnerable populations, it is important that everyone does their part by getting vaccinated.

Can I still get the seasonal flu even though I got the flu vaccine?

While the flu vaccine itself won’t give you the flu, you may still have a chance of contracting the seasonal flu. However, if you happen to contract the flu after receiving a flu shot, your chances of hospitalization and death are reduced and you are less likely to have severe complications.

A 2018 study showed that from 2012 to 2015, when adults received the flu vaccination it reduced the risk of being admitted to an intensive care unit with the flu by 82 percent. With the current COVID-19 pandemic, the resources in the ICU and health care staff are limited. Those who receive the flu vaccine as a preventative measure could help reduce the number of patients who are admitted to the hospital due to the flu each year. This may save valuable resources that are desperately needed for those who have COVID-19.

What else can I do to protect myself from the flu?

According to the CDC, getting your flu shot is the most important step to take in protecting yourself and those around you from contracting the flu. In addition to getting a flu shot, the CDC recommends other basic preventative measures to reduce the spread of the flu. These measures include washing your hands regularly for 20-30 seconds, covering your sneeze or cough, and avoiding touching your eyes, nose, mouth and face. It is also more important than ever to stay home if you are not feeling well this year to help stop the potential spread of both the flu and COVID-19. For more specific preventative measures provided by the CDC click here.

How can I get my flu shot at NuCara?

Call or stop into your local NuCara Pharmacy to set up an appointment to receive your flu shot. You can also contact any NuCara Pharmacy with questions or concerns regarding the flu vaccine.