The flu, also known as influenza, is a viral infection of the nose, throat, bronchial tubes, and lungs that can make individuals of any age ill. The usual symptoms of the flu include a runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, cough, fever, headache, chills, and soreness and aching in the back, arms, and legs. Most people will be sick with the flu for only a few days, but others may develop more serious cases that could warrant a hospital visit.
Flu season in the United States is generally from October to March, and it’s recommended you get your annual vaccination in September or early October.
Annual Flu Shots
Everyone should get an annual flu vaccine because the virus constantly changes its outer structure, where antibodies latch on to disable the virus. Medical professionals dedicate work to updating the vaccination annually so that the public can have the best chance at fighting it. Though it is important to note that you can still get the flu after your vaccine, it will help lessen the severity of it.
The great news is that there are very few side effects to the flu vaccine. Some people experience a sore arm, and there are rare allergic reactions. If you have a severe egg allergy, you will need to take an egg-free flu vaccine, and if you have a history of Guillain-Barré Syndrome, you will want to talk to your healthcare provider before getting your vaccination.
If you are concerned about the flu shot affecting your pregnancy or breastfeeding, there is no need to worry! It’s safe and recommended for pregnant people, especially those in their second and third trimester, because influenza can actually cause complications in pregnancy. The flu vaccine protects the mother and child for several months after injection.
Children need to be at least six months or older to receive the annual flu shot. The vaccine is highly recommended by medical professionals to keep children healthy, since their immune system is still developing and they come into a lot of contact with the virus during school.
If you get the flu, you can still receive the flu vaccine. However, you should wait until you are fully recovered. The reason for this is because, if you do experience side effects, your symptoms may be worsened.
If you want to get the flu and COVID-19 vaccine at the same time, you absolutely can, as long as you are eligible and the timing coincides with your vaccine schedule.
Prepare for Flu Season
Currently, we are in the thick of flu season, so if you haven’t gotten your flu vaccine, now is better than never! You can schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor or your local pharmacy.