Where To Get The Flu Vaccine
You can have the NHS flu vaccine at:
- your GP surgery
- a pharmacy offering the service
- your midwifery service if you’re pregnant
- a hospital appointment
If you do not have your flu vaccine at your GP surgery, you do not have to tell the surgery. This will be done for you.
It’s important to go to your vaccination appointments unless you have symptoms of COVID-19.
Who Should Not Receive A Flu Shot:
Most people should be vaccinated for influenza each year, But some people should not be vaccinated, or should not receive some types of influenza vaccines, depending upon things such as their age, health and whether they have certain allergies.
Information about who cannot get a flu vaccine and who should talk to their doctor before getting a flu vaccine is available at Who Should & Who Should NOT Get Vaccinated.
Does The Flu Vaccine Contain Thimerosal
You might have heard the buzz about thimerosal, a mercury-containing preservative used in certain vaccines. All vaccines that are marketed for use in young children no longer contain thimerosal, but it is still found in some vaccines used in adults, including certain flu vaccines.
Researchers have studied thimerosal extensively, and they haven’t found any connection between the preservative and autism or any other serious health risks. Still, if you’re worried, you can ask your doctor to use a thimerosal-free vaccine.
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Get A Free Flu Shot Near You
Getting a flu shot is always a good idea. But with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, its even more important. Why? Because you want to protect yourself from having the flu virus and COVID at the same time.
Maybe you consider the flu an inconvenience, not a serious illness. But, like COVID-19, the flu can be bad news for some. Getting a flu shot can keep you from spreading flu to others at high risk of severe illness .Flu cases were low last year. But that doesnt mean they wont rise again. You can help keep cases down by getting the shot. Its easy, safe and puts you on the first line of defense.
What Is The Flu
Influenza or the common Flu is a respiratory infection caused by influenza viruses. Its different from the common cold virus as influenza often causes a more severe form of illness. In some people, especially young children, those over 65 years of age, or people with other systemic illnesses influenza can be very severe, requiring hospitalization.1 As much as we like to think were young and invincible, university students can also face very, very severe outcomes from the influenza virus as well. This is even more so the case during the COVID-19 pandemic where infection by both the influenza and COVID-19 viruses is possible. In fact, each year, it is estimated that the flu causes 12,200 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths in Canada.2 Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and those around you against the flu.
Influenza symptoms typically include sudden onset of:
- high fever
- loss of appetite
- sore throat2
It is important to note that both the flu and COVID-19 present similar symptoms. If you see any overlap in symptoms, it is best to take this self-assesment and get tested to determine next steps.
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People At High Risk Of Complications From The Flu
- people with health conditions, such as:
- cancer and other immune compromising conditions
- kidney disease
- neurological or neurodevelopmental conditions
- children up to 18 years of age undergoing treatment for long periods with acetylsalicylic acid
Children Six Months Or Younger Don’t Need It
If you have a child younger than six months, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you do not have him or her vaccinated for the flu just yet. At this age, children are too young for the flu shot and their bodies and immune systems can’t handle the dosage provided in the vaccine.
Dr. Claire McCarthy, MD, from Boston Children’s Hospital, agrees that the flu vaccine is the best way to prevent the flu, but warns that “children less than six months old can’t get the flu shot.” While you want to prevent your young child from dealing with this miserable illness, you’ll need to wait until he or she is old enough to handle the flu shot. In the meantime, have your family members get their flu shots and keep their hands clean to prevent your child from gaining exposure to the germs that cause the flu.
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Is It Ok To Get The Flu Vaccine More Than Once In The Same Flu Season
Studies have not shown there is any benefit for most adults getting more than one dose of vaccine in the same flu season. However, its recommended that some people get 2 doses of the flu vaccine in one season:
- children under 9 years old who have not ever been vaccinated against the flu
- people who are having flu vaccination for the first time after a stem cell transplant or organ transplant
- pregnant women, who may be vaccinated with the next seasons influenza vaccine if it becomes available in the latter part of their pregnancy, even if they had the previous seasons vaccine
- overseas travellers who are going to the northern hemisphere winter
Flu Vaccine For People With Long
The flu vaccine is offered free on the NHS to anyone with a serious long-term health condition, including:
- a learning disability
- problems with your spleen, for example, sickle cell disease, or if you have had your spleen removed
- a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or taking medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
Talk to your doctor if you have a long-term condition that is not in one of these groups. They should offer you the flu vaccine if they think you’re at risk of serious problems if you get flu.
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What Side Effects Can Occur After Getting A Flu Vaccine
While a flu vaccine cannot give you flu illness, there are different side effects that may be associated with getting a flu shot or a nasal spray flu vaccine. These side effects are mild and short-lasting, especially when compared to symptoms of bad case of flu.
A flu shot: The viruses in a flu shot are killed , so you cannot get flu from a flu shot. Some minor side effects that may occur are:
Soreness, redness, and/or swelling where the shot was given
The nasal spray: The viruses in the nasal spray vaccine are weakened and do not cause severe symptoms often associated with influenza illness. In children, side effects from the nasal spray may include:
In adults, side effects from the nasal spray vaccine may include:
If these problems occur, they begin soon after vaccination and usually are mild and short-lived. A flu shot, like other injections, can occasionally cause fainting. Tell your provider if you feel dizzy or have vision changes or ringing in the ears. As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.
How Well Will The Flu Vaccine Protect Me Against The Flu
Each spring, public health experts around the world predict which flu strains are most likely to circulate and cause illness in the coming flu season. Based on their predictions, the flu vaccine is formulated to protect against those three or four strains. When the experts have made a good match, the vaccine is up to 90% effective in healthy adults. For those age 65 and older, a high-dose version of the flu vaccine called Fluzone is recommended when available. It may be more effective at protecting the elderly because their immune systems are more fragile.
Sometimes the flu virus will outsmart the experts and transform itself between their prediction and the beginning of the flu season. It might even change in the middle of a flu season. Then the flu strains in the vaccine won’t match the strains in circulation.
Even if the vaccine isn’t a perfect match it’s still worth getting, experts say. Each vaccine protects against three to four different flu strains, so chances are at least one of them is circulating in any given season. Plus, when you get vaccinated against one strain of flu virus, your body makes antibodies that protect you against related strains, even if they’re not exactly the same.
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When Is The Best Time To Get The Flu Shot
The flu shot is available a lot sooner than you might think. Sometimes, you can get the vaccine starting at the very end of August, but more often it drops in pharmacies and doctors offices in mid-September or early October.
And that happens to be perfect timing, as October is ideal, according to Dr. Adalja. This timing decreases the risk of the vaccination wearing off before flu season really peaks. But he also said that if the only time you can get is before October, that’s okay too. It’s better to get the vaccination early than to not get it at all.
While it may seem alarmist to get your flu shot ASAP, it really can save you from a dreadful few weeks or even a serious illness that sends you to the hospital. Ive seen far too many disasters in people who think they can time , Dr. Poland says. “People either forget about getting the vaccine or procrastinate it. Then they start seeing their neighbors and coworkers get sick and decide it’s time. But at that point, it could already be too late.”
How Does The Flu Shot Work Exactly
The influenza vaccine takes two weeks to incubate and build virus-fighting antibodies in your body, says Keri Peterson, MD, an internal medicine doctor at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City and medical advisor to Womens Health. That means youre not protected from the virus for a full 14 days after you get the shot. So your flu-infected neighbors could already have passed the flu on and your vaccine wont do a thing to stop you from getting sick.
Still, that doesn’t mean you should skip the vaccine altogether if you feel like you’re getting your jab late in the season. It could still protect you, and will likely last up to six months.
Some people think if they dont get it by Thanksgiving, its too late, says Dr. Poland. But thats far from the truth. Dr. Peterson is still administering flu shots in her office well into March. And as long as your pharmacy or doctors supply hasnt run out, you can still get a flu shot until May.
The CDC does note that getting a flu shot far in advance of the season, around July or August, is too early, especially for older folks. So you should ideally go in sometime in September or October, and then you can feel confident that you’ll be protected for more of the season.
Still, you shouldn’t think you’ve missed the window. The majority of flu outbreaks in the U.S. happen between February and March, Dr. Poland says, so getting a vaccine after the holidays isn’t pointless by any means.
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You’re Allergic To Eggs
Most flu shots are manufactured using egg-based technology. Therefore, the vaccine itself may contain a small amount of egg protein called ovalbumin. If you have a severe allergy to eggs or egg-based products, there’s a small chance that the flu shot may cause an allergic reaction. If the allergic reaction you usually have to eggs is simply hives, the CDC recommends that you have your flu shot nonetheless and seek treatment if needed.
If your allergic reaction to eggs is usually more severe, such as anaphylaxis, the CDC concludes that you can still get your flu shot, but it should be administered, “in an inpatient or outpatient medical setting , under the supervision of a health care provider who is able to recognize and manage severe allergic conditions.” While anaphylaxis is a life-threatening condition, a recent CDC study found that only 1.31 per one million vaccine doses administered resulted in anaphylaxis.
You Already Got Your Shot For The Year
The CDC recommends that you get your flu shot by the end of October so you’re prepared for the start of flu season. However, if you don’t get your flu vaccination within this timeframe, it’s not too late. Dr. Monique May, MD, advises, “Since it takes about 2 weeks for the flu shot to take effect, the latest I would recommend would be February to March.”
Keep in mind, you only need to get one flu vaccine annually. If you have already obtained your flu shot, you won’t need to get it again until next year. Once the vaccine is in your system, another shot won’t increase your immunity to the illness.
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Why Should People Get Vaccinated Against Flu
Influenza is a potentially serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and flu can affect people differently, but millions of people get flu every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands to tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year. Flu can mean a few days of feeling bad and missing work or it can result in more serious illness. Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes. An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to help protect against flu. Vaccination has been shown to have many benefits including reducing the risk of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and even the risk of flu-related death in children. While some people who get a flu vaccine may still get sick, flu vaccination has been shown in several studies to reduce severity of illness.
Will A Flu Shot Protect Me Against Covid
Getting a flu shot wont protect you against COVID-19, but it can reduce your risk of illness, hospitalization and other severe complications from the flu.Both the flu and COVID can make you really sick. If you havent received your COVID-19 vaccine yet, theres no better time than now. Learn how to get a COVID vaccine.
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Who Shouldnt Get Vaccinated
If youre currently feeling sick, its best to wait until youre better.
Avoid the flu shot if you have a severe allergy to any of the ingredients that may be used in the vaccine, such as:
- egg protein
- monosodium glutamate , a stabilizer that keeps vaccines from losing their potency
- antibiotics, such as neomycin and gentamicin
- polysorbate 80, an emulsifier which keeps the ingredients from separating
- formaldehyde, which inactivates the flu virus
Babies under 6 months old shouldnt be vaccinated.
If youve had Guillain-Barré syndrome, talk to your doctor before getting the flu vaccine.
The nasal spray contains a weakened live virus. It shouldnt be taken by people who:
- are younger than 2 or older than 50 years
- are 2 to 4 years old and have asthma
- are 2 to 17 years old and take medications containing aspirin or salicylate
- are pregnant
- have life threatening allergies to the flu vaccine
- have a suppressed immune system
- are in close contact with someone with a suppressed immune system
- have taken antiviral drugs for the flu within the previous 48 hours
Talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of the nasal spray vaccine if you have:
- asthma or chronic lung disease
- a blood disorder
Its More Important Than Ever
Getting the flu shot will not protect you from COVID-19, but its important to protect yourself and others this flu season.
Theâ¯Flu Facts page on Ontario.caâ¯has information to help you identify if you have the flu, a cold or COVID-19.
Remember that influenza spreads easily, especially during the peak season running from late fall to early spring.
Symptoms of the flu include:
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Who Should Have The Flu Shot
The Australian Government recommends that everyone over the age of 6 months has a flu vaccination every year.
Its difficult to predict who will catch influenza , or who will become seriously ill from it. The flu can require hospitalisation and can even be fatal.
Getting vaccinated against the flu helps protect both you and the people around you. Its particularly important to protect vulnerable people in the community who cant be vaccinated, such as babies who are younger than 6 months and adults with low immunity.
When Should You Get Your Flu Shot
Its generally recommended that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October, according to the CDC. This is especially important because of the ongoing spread of COVID-19. The flu season can last until March or April, so you can still get the flu vaccine later. No matter when you get your flu shot, it will still be valuable to help protect you for the rest of the flu season. Talk to your provider about the best time to get your flu shot. Remember to ask about other vaccines you might need to protect yourself this year too.
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