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Why You Need a Flu Vaccine This Year

Flu Shot Vaccination

The flu season is upon us. The exact timing of flu season changes from year to year, but influenza tends to become more common starting in October and then ramps up from there, with the most virus activity occurring between December and February.

Flu cases were at an all-time low during the 2020-2021 flu season. This was mainly due to social distancing, mask-wearing, and school and office closures. However, the flu is expected to make a comeback this year.

Here are some of the most common questions about influenza and the 2021-2022 flu season:

What is the flu?

More formally known as influenza, flu is a respiratory illness that affects the nose, throat, and lungs. It’s contagious and can range from mild to severe, in some cases even leading to death.

What are some common flu symptoms?

Influenza affects the respiratory system, so you’ll notice many symptoms related to your throat, nose, and lungs. Common symptoms include a sore throat, stuffy nose, cough, fever, body and muscle aches, headaches, and fatigue. 

It’s important to seek medical care right away if you experience more severe symptoms and complications, such as chest pain or pressure, difficulty breathing, seizures, lack of urination, severe weakness or muscle pain, confusion, or persistent dizziness.

Should I get a flu vaccine?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends nearly everyone six months old or older should get vaccinated. The vaccine is the best way to protect yourself from contracting influenza.

While the vaccine is safe and recommended for most people, there are some exceptions, including people with allergies to the flu vaccine or any of its ingredients and people who have had Guillain-Barré Syndrome in the past. Seek guidance from your healthcare provider if you have questions or concerns.

When is the best time to get a flu vaccine?

It takes about two weeks to develop flu antibodies after vaccination. Therefore, it’s a good idea to get your flu shot before the virus starts spreading widely in your community. September and October are optimal times to be vaccinated. Ideally, vaccination should happen before November rolls around. 

The 2021-2022 season may strike earlier and more severely than usual. This is because many people haven’t built up their natural immune defenses while working from home and social distancing.

What’s different about the flu vaccine this year?

This season’s flu vaccines were updated to better match viruses expected to be circulating in the United States. For the 2021-2022 flu season, all flu vaccines will be quadrivalent (four component), meaning designed to protect against four different flu viruses.

Why is getting the flu vaccine is so important?

With any preventable disease, we should do everything we can to protect ourselves. The CDC estimates that an average of 36,000 people died of the flu each year over the past decade.

It’s especially important to get your flu vaccine this year because influenza and COVID-19 will coexist and there’s a great deal of overlap between the symptoms. Our national healthcare system could be inundated in some regions, especially with the Delta variant surge.

Does the flu vaccine interfere with the COVID-19 vaccine?

The flu vaccine does not interfere with the COVID-19 vaccine. In fact, flu vaccines and COVID-19 vaccines can be given at the same time.

Can I have flu and COVID-19 simultaneously?

It’s possible to have both the flu and COVID-19 or another respiratory illness at the same time, though researchers aren’t sure how common this is yet. With the flu and coronavirus both spreading at the same time this winter, the CDC says getting a flu shot this year is more important than ever before. Diagnostic testing can help determine if you are sick with flu or COVID-19.

Can my COVID-19 vaccine protect me from getting the flu?

Although there are overlapping symptoms, the flu vaccine won’t you protect you from COVID-19 and the COVID-19 vaccine won’t protect you from the flu.

Should I get a flu vaccine if I’m pregnant?

The flu shot is safe and highly recommended for pregnant women. The flu can be very dangerous for pregnant woman as they are at greater risk of having severe complications like pneumonia which are dangerous for the mother and could, in turn, lead to an increased risk of miscarriage.

If you get vaccinated in your third trimester, a flu vaccination also helps protect your baby from the flu until they are old enough to have a shot themselves at 6 months old.

If you would like to meet with a knowledgeable doctor, consider contacting Women’s Health Arizona. As Arizona’s largest ObGyn group, we’re trained and solely dedicated to delivering the best ObGyn experience in convenient and comfortable settings around Phoenix.

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