Why Should I Get a Flu Vaccine?
Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a potentially serious disease that may lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. An annual flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself against flu. Though the vaccine may not completely prevent you from contracting the virus, there are still many benefits from receiving it, namely the reduction of:
- Risk and severity of illness;
- Risk of hospitalization; and
- Flu-related death in children.
The vaccine is an important preventative tool for people with chronic conditions and helps protect women during pregnancy. Getting vaccinated also helps protect others around you.
Types of Flu Vaccines
If you are getting a flu vaccine this year, and we strongly suggest you do, you can choose several options. The following are available at all Ochsner Lafayette General Health Urgent Care Centers:
High-dose Vaccine – For those 65 years and over, who are far less likely to benefit from a standard flu shot, this vaccine covers influenza viruses in higher concentrations. It contains four times the level of immunity-producing antigens, giving the elderly a stronger resistance.
Quadrivalent Vaccine – These are the traditional flu vaccines and protect against two influenza A viruses and two B viruses. There is a quadrivalent influenza shot that can be given to children as young as six months of age. Other quadrivalent flu shots are approved for people three years and older.
Preservative-free Vaccine – Also a quadrivalent, this shot contains no thimerosal, an ingredient used as an extra precaution against contaminates. Multi-dose vials contain thimerosal to safeguard against contamination of the vial. Most single-dose vials and pre-filled syringes of the flu vaccine do not contain a preservative because they are intended for one use.
Flu Mist – This vaccine is the only nasal mist and is also a quadrivalent. However, it is approved only for those ages two to 49. The CDC particularly recommends this treatment for children between the ages of two to eight. It is not recommended for:
- Pregnant women
- Children younger than two years
- Adults 50+
- People with a history of severe allergic reaction(s) to any component of the vaccine or to a previous dose of any influenza vaccine
- Children aged two through 17 years who are receiving aspirin or salicylate-containing medications
- People with weakened immune systems
- Children aged two to four who have asthma or who have had a history of wheezing in the past 12 months
- People who have taken influenza antiviral drugs in the last 48 hours
- People who care for severely immunocompromised persons who require a protective environment.
The Flu and COVID-19
Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2) and flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses. Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis. Flu and COVID-19 share many characteristics, but there are some key differences between the two.
While it’s not possible to say with certainty what will happen in the fall and winter, CDC believes it’s likely that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both be spreading this fall and winter. In this context, getting a flu vaccine will be more important than ever. CDC recommends that all people 6 months and older get a yearly flu vaccine.
Frequently Asked Questions about Flu Vaccines
Have you ever met a person who was certain that a flu vaccination gave them the flu?
It is not medically possible to get the flu directly from a flu shot. The shot administers an inactive virus, not a weakened one. The flu germs you receive are dead and cannot come back to life. While the flu mist does contain a live virus, the viruses are altered so that they cannot give you the flu.
Typically, it takes a couple of weeks for a flu vaccine to develop sufficient antibodies to protect you from the flu. If you are exposed to the flu within those two weeks, then you can get the flu. Flu vaccines are given during flu season, which is why people get the flu after receiving a flu shot. Bottom line – get your shot early to avoid a regional outbreak of the flu.
Who should get a flu shot?
Everyone six months of age and older.
Please check with your doctor first if you are allergic to eggs or any ingredients in the vaccine, have had a reaction to the shot in the past, are younger than six months, are currently feeling ill and/or if you’ve had a history of Guillain Barre Syndrome.
What's the best way to avoid the flu?
Frequently wash your hands with antibacterial soap and/or an alcohol-based sanitizer. Keep your hands away from your eyes, mouth and nose.
What if I’m still not convinced that I should get a flu shot?
Ask your doctor, healthcare provider or call one of our Ochsner Lafayette General Health Urgent Care Walk-In Clinics.
Flu shots are available at Ochsner Lafayette General Health Urgent Care Clinics The urgent care walk-in clinics are open seven days a week. We also occasionally host community flu clinics that provide drive-through flu vaccinations.
How much does it cost?
The Urgent Care Clinic will bill your insurance for the entire portion of the shot and, in most cases, the patient has no out-of-pocket expense. Most insurance companies are accepted.
River Ranch Clinic
Sugar Mill Pond Clinic
Ochsner University Hospital & Clinics
You can also monitor the spread of flu in your area by utilizing the Illness Watch feature in the Lafayette General Health App.