It’s that time of year again. It seems like everywhere you go, there is someone coughing or sneezing. Flu shots can help protect you and your family from this dangerous disease.
Things to know:
Influenza is a serious disease, not just a stomach bug or bad cold. Hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized with the flu each year, and many thousands die from it. It is not a mild disease.
The flu shot does not cause the flu. As with all medical treatments, there is the small possibility of side effects. However, the flu vaccine shot only has the dead virus in it – it is impossible to be infected with a dead virus. The nasal mist vaccine has a type of live virus, but it has been engineered to remove the part that can make people sick. It is scientifically impossible to get the flu from a flu vaccine.
The flu is dangerous, not just to the elderly, but to the young, the pregnant and the unborn. Children are hospitalized for the flu at alarmingly high rates. Babies under 6 months cannot get the vaccine, but they are highly susceptible to the disease. Pregnant women run risks of premature delivery and are known to become more seriously ill – and thus their unborn baby is at higher risk – if they do contract the flu.
You need to get a flu shot every year. Flu viruses change every year, so getting a shot each year is important to keep up.
The flu shot should not be your only defense. It’s important to protect and prevent the spread of the flu. For example, wash your hands frequently with soap and water, try to avoid people who are sick (and wash your hands after touching them, if it is unavoidable), cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze, and keep your hands away from your mouth, nose and eyes.
The flu vaccine is an important step in preventing the spread of a dangerous disease. There are many flu shot clinics in public health departments, as well as flu vaccines available in all major pharmacies.
Check with your insurance carrier about coverage, but even without coverage there are inexpensive and even free ways to get yourself protected from the flu.
If you are an RMHP Member, you can receive your flu shot at no out-of-pocket cost. You can get the shot at a physician office, most major pharmacies and flu shot clinics.