Influenza Season Is Approaching…And Flu Shots Are Important

It’s hard to think about yet another health hazard lurking on the horizon. However, influenza (or “flu”) season officially begins October 1, and runs through early April. Fortunately, we know this particular illness is coming, and we have an effective vaccine.

Let’s look at why flu shots are important.

Q.  How many people get the flu each year?

A. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 39-56 million people in the U.S. had influenza from October 1, 2019 through April 4, 2020. They also estimate that approximately 24,000 people died from the flu and related complications. Those are very rough estimates, because we do not track the flu with the same detailed attention that we pay to COVID-19. The symptoms are miserable, it can last for weeks, it makes you more vulnerable to other diseases, and it can be deadly. So even though the spotlight is on COVID, the flu is not something to take lightly. On a side note, flu cases were down overall in 2020, but that was largely due to everyone wearing masks. Now that the masks are off, your chances of getting the flu have increased.

Q. Why is the flu so dangerous?

A. Like COVID-19, the flu attacks the respiratory system. It typically comes with a high fever, labored breathing, and a host of other symptoms. Anyone who already has difficulty breathing or is immunocompromised in some way is at risk. It’s also highly contagious.

Q. Do I need a flu shot every year?

A. Yes. There are many different strains of the flu. Each year, the vaccine is compounded to help prevent the strains that are most likely to be prevalent. You need a vaccine every year to help prevent that season’s flu variation. Flu vaccines also become less effective over time, which means you need a shot each year to maintain maximum protection.

Q.  Are flu vaccines safe?

A. Yes. You will not get the flu from a flu shot. You might have a bit of tenderness in your arm for a couple days afterwards. That is a small price to pay for preventing an illness that can take weeks or months to get over.

Q. Am I guaranteed not to get the flu if I get a vaccine?

A. No. Because there are many strains of the flu, it is possible for you to catch one that was not specifically targeted in the vaccine.  However, your changes of getting the flu decrease significantly with a vaccine. Also, if you do get it, your symptoms will generally be milder if you’ve had a vaccine than if you haven’t had one.

Q. How does COVID-19 fit into all of this?

A. It’s unfortunate, but you can have COVID-19 and the flu at the same time, and both diseases target the respiratory system.  COVID-19 is serious enough on its own. Adding the flu to it almost guarantees that you will be in the hospital and possibly fighting for your life. We have a vaccine for COVID-19 and we have a vaccine for the flu. Let’s protect ourselves and prevent what we can prevent.

Get Your Flu Shot at NOCHS

Dunewood Pharmacy’s Walk-In Clinic

When: Normal business hours. Monday-Friday, 8:00 am to 6:00 pm. Saturday, 9:00 am to 12:00 pm.
Location: Dunewood Pharmacy, 1445 Sheldon Road, Grand Haven
Bring: Your ID and Insurance Card

Community Flu Clinics

When: Thursday, October 19, 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Location: Spring Lake District Library, 123 E. Exchange Street, Spring Lake
Bring: Your ID and Insurance Card

If you are not insured, there will be an out-of-pocket cost for the flu shot. Please ask us about pricing.

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