A doctor answers your top 10 flu vaccination questions
Medical and public health professionals have a wealth of knowledge about influenza and the importance of vaccination to protect against flu.
Because influenza can be deadly and has the potential to create a global pandemic, influenza reporting, testing and research is conducted around the world. The latest research indicates that the 2019-2020 flu season could be severe and widespread.
Arthur Coffey, MD, ProHealth Care’s chief physician operations officer, answers some of the questions that can circulate about flu vaccination:
1. Are flu and influenza the same illness?
Whether it is called flu or influenza, seasonal flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. People who have mild to moderate flu may have a cough, fever, sore throat, stuffy nose, body aches, headaches and fatigue. Some people also experience stomach upset.
Flu can be very serious. As of Oct. 26, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported six deaths associated with influenza in the state this season.
The best way to prevent flu is by getting vaccinated each year – before flu season starts.
2. Why do I need to get vaccinated now?
Flu season begins at this time of year and usually peaks between December and February, although it can still be going around in May.
The earlier you are vaccinated, the better protected you’ll be and the longer you help protect people around you. It takes about two weeks for the vaccine to become effective.
3. Why can’t I skip vaccination this year?
Your immunity declines over time. A yearly vaccination ensures that you are as protected as you can be when seasonal flu spreads.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) conducts extensive tests to make sure the current flu vaccine will help you fight the influenza viruses expected to be the most prevalent for the season.
4. Can the flu vaccine make me sick? Can I get sick even if I get a flu shot?
The flu vaccine does not cause the flu.
Some people who get vaccinated do get the flu. Vaccination makes the illness less severe and can help keep you out of the hospital.
5. Isn’t the flu shot for kids and seniors?
Anyone can get the flu, and the virus spreads easily. Everyone who is eligible should get a yearly influenza vaccination starting at 6 months old.
Young children, older people, and people with certain health conditions are at high risk of serious flu complications. By getting vaccinated, you help protect yourself and people of all ages at work; when you are out shopping, dining or enjoying a movie or game; and when you spend holiday time with loved ones or travel.
6. What about people who are pregnant or have a medical condition?
Widely respected research shows vaccination reduces the risk of flu hospitalization among pregnant women by an average of 40%. When a pregnant mother is vaccinated for flu, her baby also has protection for the first few months after birth.
Flu vaccination can lower the risk of serious illness and hospitalization for people with heart disease or diabetes. Call your doctor’s office if you have a question about a specific health condition.
7. Why does vaccination offer a percentage of protection?
More than one influenza virus is in circulation at any given time. CDC studies match the recommended vaccine for the season with viruses the CDC predicts will be the most common during that season.
It’s not possible to predict the flu viruses that every individual might be exposed to in a certain place at a given time. Vaccination generally reduces the risk of flu by 40% to 60% – a considerable amount of protection when compared to no protection.
8. Where can I find the true facts about flu?
The Centers for Disease Control at CDC.gov/Flu is the best place to find useful, updated facts about the flu.
9. Where do I get a flu shot?
You can find flu vaccination locations and hours online. Local health care systems have teams of medical professionals dedicated to preventing flu and to treating influenza, pneumonia and conditions that may result from severe flu. To find information from ProHealth Care, visit ProHealthCare.org/Flu.
10. You’ve convinced me to get a flu shot as soon as possible. What can I say to other people who hesitate?
Vaccination lowers the risk of contracting the flu.
When more people get vaccinated, less flu can spread throughout the community.
For the best protection, everyone 6 months and older should get vaccinated each year.
ProHealth Care gives you access to all the seasonal protection you need to defend yourself against whatever the flu season sends your way.
Walk-in flu vaccination is available for individuals 6 months and older at ProHealth Care urgent care locations or ProHealth Medical Group in Mukwonago, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Occupational Health Services locations also provide walk-in vaccinations Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Visit ProHealthCare.org/Flu for additional information about seasonal vaccination and vaccines.