Cobb & Douglas Public Health Dept - www.cobbanddouglaspublichealth.org
Are You At Increased Risk?
Even though the flu is a common illness, it can be dangerous. According to the CDC, 200,000 people end up in the hospital every year because of the flu. And about 36,000 of them die. That is why getting a flu shot is so important. This is especially true for people who have a higher risk of getting it.
You are at increased risk if you:
- are age 65 or older
- live or work in a nursing home or other facility where people are chronically ill
- have a chronic health problem like diabetes, kidney, lung, heart disease or asthma
- have an illness like HIV/AIDS or get medical treatment, like chemotherapy, which weakens your immunity and keeps you from fighting infections
- take care of or live with someone in a high-risk group
The flu is an infection caused by viruses. When you get the flu, you might have a fever, chills, body aches, a dry cough, and sometimes a sore throat or runny nose. You might also feel extremely tired.
Other illnesses, including a cold, could make you feel the same way. That's why it's not always easy to tell if you have the flu. A doctor can give you a test to tell whether it's the flu that's making you sick.
Flu viruses can pass through the air and enter your body through your nose or mouth. You can catch the flu if you're around an infected person who coughs or sneezes. You can also get it by touching the same surface that someone with the flu has touched, like a telephone or doorknob. The germs on that surface can pass from your hand to your nose or mouth.
The risk of getting infected is greater in closed-in areas, and areas where there are lots of people. You can avoid picking up some of the germs by washing your hands often and keeping them away from your nose and mouth.
A flu shot (or vaccine) can prevent between 70 percent and 90 percent of flu illnesses, according to the CDC. It will not prevent non-flu illnesses that have flu-like symptoms. Also, you can't get the flu by receiving a flu shot because the shot is made from killed viruses.
It takes about two weeks for the shot to kick in and start protecting you against the flu. Since the shot doesn't guarantee 100 percent protection, there is still a slight chance you could get it. But, if you do catch it, you won't become as sick as you would without the shot.
A flu shot is safe for most people. However, some people, like those who are allergic to eggs, shouldn't get it since the flu shot contains egg protein. Talk to your doctor if you're not sure whether to get the shot. If you should experience any allergic reaction to the shot, such as trouble breathing or swelling of your lips or tongue, call 911 or go immediately to a hospital emergency room.
Where To Get a Flu Shot?
You can get a flu shot at your doctor's office or a local clinic. Sometimes you can get one where you work. Supermarkets and drugstores also offer flu shots in many communities. If there are delays getting the shot in your community, be sure to get one as soon as it becomes available.
If you aren't sure where to get a flu shot in your area, use the flu shot locator at findaflushot.com or call the CDC hotline at 1-800-232-2522 for help.
Side Effects and Safety
Side effects from the vaccine are rare. You could have a fever or experience soreness on the area where you received the shot. The discomfort should go away in a day or two. Very rarely, people might have more serious side effects, like an allergic reaction.
If you have a serious reaction to a flu shot, call your doctor right away or go to the nearest hospital emergency room.