Protect Yourself and Others with the Flu Shot

January 10, 2022

A doctor treating a patient

Flu shots don’t just protect those who get vaccinated; they protect everyone, including your family and the community. As we continue navigating the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, Renown Health infection prevention expert, Whitney Robinson, explains how getting your flu shot is even more essential this year.

Reasons to get the flu shot

Chills, body aches, fever, congestion; getting the flu isn’t fun. But in addition to protecting yourself with a flu shot, you’re helping reduce flu cases and hospitalizations, Whitney said. Flu shots are currently available at pharmacies throughout the Reno area.

Whitney says the ideal time to get your flu shot is September through October, but remain relevant throughout the winter months as it only takes two weeks for the antibodies to develop in your body. This timing allows the vaccine to provide the strongest protection during the length of flu season.

Who needs a flu shot?

Almost everyone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the yearly flu shot for everyone six months of age and older. Equally, they consider it the first and most crucial step in protecting against the flu virus.

Does the flu shot help with coronavirus?

The short answer is no. However, flu vaccines are shown to reduce the risks of flu illness and hospitalization. It will be more important than ever to get your flu shot this fall – which not only protects you and your community; it will help conserve vital health care resources.

Is it the flu?

In general, the flu is worse than the common cold and shares symptoms with COVID-19 (coronavirus). Symptoms such as fever, body aches, fatigue, and cough are more common and intense with the flu. Conversely, people with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose.

Your healthcare provider can test you within the first few days of your illness to determine if you have the flu

Flu symptoms include:

  • A 100 degree (or more) or feeling feverish (not everyone with the flu has a fever)
  • A cough and/or sore throat
  • A runny or stuffy nose
  • Headaches and/or body aches
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea (most common in children)

Seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of the following:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Purple or blue color lips
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or stomach
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with an even worse cough

How do flu shots work?

“Vaccines help develop immunity by imitating an infection,” Whitney said. “When developing the annual vaccine, scientists grow viral flu particles selectively chosen by researchers to cover the most common flu strains for that year. They copy the viral particles, then kill or weaken them, so they are inactive. The inactivated virus is then purified and made into the vaccine or ‘flu shot.'”

“When the vaccine enters the body, it causes the body to create a defense, called antibodies, against the flu virus. These antibodies are then ready to help prevent flu infections from occurring. They can also shorten the severity and length you have the flu if a vaccinated person becomes ill with a strain not included in the flu vaccine.”

Bottom line: Your best chance of avoiding the flu this season is to get your flu shot. Experts advise the earlier, the better.

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