What is the best time to get the flu shot?
Flu season, the time when the virus is infecting the greatest number of people, varies from year to year. Flu cases usually start to increase from low summer levels in October and November, and the season can end as late as May. Most years, the peak of the flu season occurs in January or February.
Once you get the vaccine, it takes about two weeks to become effective while your body develops antibodies to protect you from the virus. That’s why it is important to get the flu shot when it becomes available in the fall — so your body is ready to fight the influenza virus before you get exposed to it. People who choose to wait to get the vaccine go unprotected and put themselves and those around them at risk.
Who should get vaccinated?
The CDC recommends that everyone six months old and older should get a flu shot every year. There are very few exceptions. If you are currently feeling ill, or you’ve had Guillan-Barre Syndrome (GBS), talk to your doctor before getting the flu shot. Additionally, those with allergies to the vaccine or any of its ingredients shouldn’t get the flu shot.
How much does it cost?
The cost of the flu shot depends on your insurance and where you go to receive the shot. Most insurance plans will completely cover the flu shot as a preventive service at no cost to you, but make sure to check with your insurance and the facility you go to. For those who do not have insurance, local health departments tend to have some of the lowest vaccine costs. You can also shop around for grocery stores or pharmacies that are providing special promotional rates for the flu shot.
Can the flu shot make me sick with the flu?
No, the flu shot does not give you the flu. Some flu shots contain a deactivated virus, and other shots don’t contain a virus at all, but neither can give you the flu.
Some people may experience soreness or redness at the injection site, which is a sign that the flu vaccine is effectively preparing your body’s immune system to fight an influenza virus that it might be exposed to. Other normal immune responses following a flu shot are usually mild and can include a low-grade fever and aches.
If these symptoms occur, they usually begin soon after the shot and don’t last very long—one to two days at most. Any discomfort experienced after a flu shot is far less severe than the symptoms and complications that can come from contracting the flu.
You can check the current virus rates of flu (influenza) throughout Utah at Intermountain Healthcare’s GermWatch. If you have any questions or concerns about receiving the vaccination, talk to your doctor.