Receiving an annual flu shot can be critical in helping people stay healthy throughout the fall and winter seasons, otherwise known as flu season. While it may not be possible to completely prevent the flu in some cases, being vaccinated against the flu can significantly reduce a person’s chances of catching the flu and getting seriously ill if they do still get infected. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), flu shots helped prevent an estimated 7.5 million illnesses and 6,800 deaths in the US during the 2019-2020 season. The ongoing prevalence of COVID-19 makes flu prevention even more important this year. To help reassure and educate our readers, our healthcare providers were happy to answer a few commonly asked questions about flu shots from our patients.
Question #1: Why does the flu shot need to be administered again every year?
While it’s true that many of the vaccines that people receive provide lifetime immunity from their respective health concerns, flu vaccines are different. Due to the changing nature of the flu from year to year and the many different types of influenza viruses that exist, each year’s flu shots are only intended to effectively prevent illness from the most common strains in the current year.
Question #2: What type of flu shots are being administered this year?
For this current 2021–2022 flu season, all flu vaccines will be quadrivalent. This means that they are formulated to protect against the four most prevalent flu viruses that we are expecting to see this flu season. They include an influenza A(H1N1) virus, an influenza A(H3N2) virus, and two influenza B viruses. There are different forms of this vaccine intended to help people with unique needs, including those with certain allergies and high-strength doses to better protect patients aged 65 and up.
Question #3: Is it safe to get a flu shot and COVID-19 vaccine at the same time?
Getting vaccinated against both COVID-19 and the seasonal flu can help keep you and your loved ones safe this winter and beyond. According to the CDC, it is perfectly safe to receive both vaccinations. Additionally, there is no recommended waiting period between receiving the COVID-19 vaccine and the flu shot. This means that patients who prefer to receive both vaccines during the same appointment can do so if they choose.
Question #4: Will getting a flu shot possibly give me the flu?
No, this is a common misconception. Because flu vaccines are made with either inactivated (killed) viruses, or with only a single protein from the flu virus, there is no risk of being infected with the flu from being vaccinated.
We hope our readers keep these answers in mind when considering whether or not they are planning to get a flu shot this year. For more information or to schedule a vaccine appointment, please contact Family Practice Center. We are open for morning walk-in appointments and telemedicine visits at our Atlanta and Alpharetta locations. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook for additional health tips, news, and much more.