As the COVID-19 pandemic continues into the fall, health experts say getting your annual flu shot is more important than ever. The vaccine can protect you and your family from seasonal flu viruses, which could mean fewer visits to the doctor or even the hospital. During the 2018-19 flu season for example, vaccinations prevented 2.3 million medical visits and 3,500 deaths related to influenza. We’ve compiled the 5 Ws related to your flu questions – who, what, when, where, and why.
WHO SHOULD GET A FLU SHOT?
The CDC recommends that everyone ages 6 months and older should get the flu vaccine annually. It’s especially important if you are at risk of developing serious complications if you get sick. This includes:
- people 65 years or older
- anyone with certain chronic medical conditions such as s asthma, diabetes, or heart disease
- pregnant women
- children younger than 5 years, but especially those younger than 2 years old
WHAT DOES THE FLU VACCINE DO?
About two weeks after getting your shot, your body will develop antibodies that fight the viruses experts believe will be most common this season. Despite what you may have heard, there is no evidence that getting vaccinated will increase your risk of getting sick from a coronavirus, like the one that causes COVID-19.
WHEN SHOULD I GET A FLU SHOT
September is a great time to get your flu shot since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for the protective antibodies to develop. Flu viruses typically begin spreading in the early fall, so plan to get yourself and your family vaccinated soon. The CDC recommends getting the shot by the end of October, although the vaccine should be available throughout the flu season, which usually peaks December to February.
WHERE DO I GET A FLU SHOT
Employees enrolled in any Kaiser Permanente plan – even if it’s not with Mister Kleen – can go to the Kaiser website for information on how and where to get their shots. Click here to visit the site.
In addition to your doctor’s office, you can get a flu shot at a number of retailers. Some of them even offer special deals when you come in for a flu shot – which should be free under most insurance plans. Click on the retailer’s name below for details on the following deals:
- Target: $5 coupon
- Walgreens: $5 off $15 purchase
- CVS: $5 off $20 purchase
- Giant: $10 off $50 purchase
WHY DO I NEED A FLU SHOT EVERY YEAR?
The number of antibodies your immune system produces after you get your shot will decline over time – leaving you less protected against the viruses it’s supposed to fight. In addition, flu viruses change all the time. Vaccines are updated every season to protect against the flu strains that researchers predict will affect the most people that year.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
If you’d like more information, click here to visit the CDC’s FAQ page for the 2020-21 flu season.
You can also get information in Spanish – click here to visit the Spanish language version of the website.
The CDC also provides information for parents through fact sheets including Talking to Children about Flu and If Your Child Gets Sick with Flu. Click here to see the list of fact sheets in English and other languages.