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Don’t Let Location Deter You from Immunizing Against the Seasonal Flu

person filling flu vaccine shot

Does it Matter Where I Get the Flu Shot?

By Julien Her, quality care coordinator at Network Health

The flu shot is an important part of keeping yourself and your community healthy during the cold-weather months of November-April. With experts predicting this season to be uniquely dangerous due to an expected surge in COVID-19 cases, doing everything we can to prevent this potentially life-threatening illness from reaching widespread levels is crucial.

At Network Health, members on our quality care team recommend getting the flu vaccine every year to protect against the flu. Beyond just being an unpleasant respiratory ailment, the flu can cause mild to severe illness. It can be especially severe in vulnerable populations like senior citizens, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems.

Why is the Flu Vaccine Important?

The flu vaccine is especially important for those who are at high risk of developing serious complications from the flu. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu vaccine prevents millions of illness and flu-related visits to the doctor’s office, as well as thousands of hospitalizations every year. Those who are at risk of developing serious flu complications are older adults, young children, pregnant women and those with certain chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease. 

The flu virus is usually spread by coughing, sneezing or talking. It can also be spread when touching a contaminated surface and then touching one’s own mouth, nose or eyes. With so many ways for the flu virus to spread, the best way to prevent getting the flu or assisting its spread is to get vaccinated every year in the fall.

Are There Different Types of Flu Vaccine?

Manufactured by different pharmaceutical companies, there are several types of vaccine products that are licensed and recommended for use in the United States. Experts at the CDC recommend getting any licensed age-appropriate flu vaccine. Because licensing and administration criteria are so rigorous, any age-appropriate vaccine that passes testing is recommended by the CDC.

Where Should I Get the Flu Shot This Year?

The flu shot is generally available at different locations which may include your personal doctor’s office, community health departments, college health centers, some schools, flu clinics and local pharmacies like CVS, Walgreens, Kroger and Walmart. Many employers also offer the flu vaccine with administration happening on-site. Be sure to ask your human resources department about making an appointment.

All of these administration sites work with certified medical professionals when administering a CDC-approved vaccine, meaning it doesn’t matter where you get the flu shot.

Who Can Get the Flu Shot?

Experts recommend those aged six months and older get the flu vaccine every year. This includes senior citizens and pregnant women, with no precluding factors.

The importance of getting a flu shot when you are eligible is so great because there are some people who are not able to receive the vaccine. Those who are often exempt from flu shot recommendations include anybody younger than six months, individuals with severe life-threatening allergies to the flu vaccine or its ingredients and those with a family history of Guillain-Barré Syndrome.

If you have any concerns regarding the vaccine or want to ensure you don’t have any allergies to the vaccine’s ingredients, you should discuss with your personal care doctor.

What Type of Flu Shot is the Best?

There are several types of vaccines available including the injectable flu vaccine, live attenuated, inactivated influenzas vaccine, recombinant influenza vaccine nasal spray and more.

Some vaccines are only approved for adults, 18 years or older, such as the recombinant influenza vaccine. The adjuvanted and high-dose inactivated vaccines are approved for those aged 65 years and older. The inactivated influenza vaccine is approved for those who are as young as 6 months of age. With so many varieties and administration options available, finding the best flu vaccine is a matter of finding the best flu vaccine for your unique situation.

>>> READ MORE: Don’t Let the High-Dose Flu Shot Shortage Deter You <<<         

Certified medical professionals who administer the vaccine will help determine which vaccine is best for you.

It is also important to consider the timing for children who need two doses of the flu vaccine, as these are typically given at least four weeks apart. The nasal spray vaccine is approved for healthy, non-pregnant individuals between 2 years and 49 years of age.

How Long Does the Flu Vaccine Take to Work?

The flu vaccine takes about 2 weeks for your body to develop antibiotics to protect against the virus. For this reason, experts at the CDC recommend getting the flu vaccine at the end of October or before the flu season starts to circulate in your community.

If you get the vaccine too early in the season, it may reduce your protection against the flu virus in the later part of the flu season. Regardless of where you choose to get the flu vaccine, getting it annually allows you to protect yourself and those around you. This year, that will likely prove to be a more important and compassionate act than it ever has before.

For more information about how your health plan can help you stay on top of recommended immunizations, contact us today.


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