Getting a flu vaccine is more important than ever during 2020-2021 to protect yourself and the people around you from flu, as well as to help reduce the strain on healthcare systems responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the flu shot below and how it protects you and your family.
An influenza (flu) shot is a flu vaccine given with a needle, usually in the arm. Seasonal flu shots protect against the three or four influenza viruses that research suggests may be most common during the upcoming season.
When should I get my flu shot?
Get your flu shot as soon as possible, since it takes about two weeks for it to protect you. In Ohio, influenza is usually at its peak between December and February, although cases continue into May.
Why do I need a flu shot every year?
Because the strains of virus can change (mutate), you need to receive the yearly version of the flu shot to assure the best protection.
Is the flu shot effective for all types of flu viruses?
It is too early to tell for this year, but the present vaccine strains are predicted to be effective against the most likely strains to be active this year.
Can I get the flu from the flu shot?
No. The flu shot is made from an inactivated virus that can't transmit infection. People who get sick after receiving a flu vaccination were going to get sick anyway or are sick from a different virus or other infection. It takes a week or two to get protection from the vaccine.
What healthy habits should I practice during the flu season?
To help stay healthy, always cough or sneeze into your elbow/sleeve or cover with a tissue and wash your hands afterward. Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth as viruses are spread that way. Also, be sure to wear a mask at all times when not alone; physical distance; avoid crowded areas; and wash hands often with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand rubs.
Getting Your Flu Shot
Who should get the flu shot?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a seasonal flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older, especially those at high risk for complications including infants, children, pregnant women and adults 65 years of age and over. Also at high risk are those of any age with heart disease, asthma and diabetes.
Who should NOT get the flu shot?
You should not get vaccinated if you have an acute illness with fever or any allergies to the flu vaccine or its components. If you had a neurologic illness called Guillain-Barre Syndrome, please consult with your doctor prior to getting a flu shot.
I am currently sick, should I get the flu shot?
It's safe to receive the flu shot if you have a mild illness, such as a common cold, sinus infection or mild diarrhea. A good rule of thumb is to speak with your doctor prior to receiving the flu shot if you're currently sick with a fever or have a moderate to severe illness.
I have elderly parents. Should they get a flu shot?
Yes, but keep in mind that – for seniors – the high dose and adjuvanted flu vaccines may result in more of the temporary, mild side effects that can occur with standard-dose seasonal shots. Side effects can include pain, redness or swelling at the injection site, as well as a headache, muscle ache and malaise. Side effects typically resolve with one to three days.
Where can I get the flu shot?
The flu shot is available at many primary care physician offices and pharmacies. If you don’t have a primary care physician, call 234.867.7965 to find one near you.
The Flu and COVID-19
Does the flu shot prevent COVID-19?
A flu shot will not prevent COVID-19, but it will reduce the burden of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths. It will also conserve scarce medical resources for the care of people with COVID-19.
Can I get COVID-19 and the flu at the same time?
Yes. It is possible have the flu, as well as other respiratory illnesses, and COVID-19 at the same time. Health experts are still studying how common this can be. Some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, which makes it difficult to tell the difference based on symptoms alone.
How do health providers keep me safe from COVID-19 while I get the flu shot?
Health providers help keep you safe by practicing important public health measures, which include wearing a mask, physical distancing as appropriate, hand hygiene and disinfecting surfaces.
Insurance Coverage for the Flu Shot
Will my insurance cover the flu shot?
Most SummaCare members can receive the flu vaccination at no cost (no co-pay) from any SummaCare provider. Other insurance plans also recognize the importance of providing vaccination to their members, so check coverage accordingly.
What if I don’t have insurance?
Community pharmacies may be able to provide an upfront, low-cost option to those without insurance. Call your local pharmacy to find out more.