IDAHO — December 6 - 12 marks National Influenza Vaccination Week, highlighting the importance of getting your flu shot.
Getting your flu shot right now is more important than ever as we continue on through a global pandemic.
"What's particularly important this year is we're going to have the flu viruses starting to circulate, but that's already on top of COVID-19 which we've seen is continuing to spread," says Dr. Amy Khan, Executive Medical Director for Regence.
Everyone six months and older is encouraged to get a flu vaccination each year. It's particularly important for people most vulnerable to developing serious complications from the flu. Last season, 9 out of 10 adults hospitalized for flu had at least one reported underlying medical condition.
"It's really important particularly for people who have underlying chronic conditions because this could increase the burden of disease not only for them but also spreading to other family members or friends and ultimately putting additional stress and strain on our healthcare system," explains Dr. Khan. "Influenza can cause avoidable visits to the doctor's office, emergency department, hospitalizations. It can even cause death."
Dr. Khan says those with conditions like asthma, diabetes, and heart disease should look at getting their vaccine as soon as possible, especially since they're also at increased risk of developing complications from COVID-19.
For years, myths have plagued campaigns to make sure everyone receives their flu vaccination, including a belief that you get the flu after getting your vaccine.
"You do not get the flu if you get a flu shot. A flu vaccine cannot cause the flu, and the type of vaccine that's injected in your arm, it's a killed virus or it's a part of a specific protein of the flu so it doesn't cause the flu," she says.
Dr. Khan says another option--the nasal spray--is a weakened and disabled version of a live flu virus that can't cause infection either. Whether you choose the spray or the shot, both take around two weeks to become effective and offer protection.
When it comes to paying for your vaccine, there are several low-cost or even no-cost options.
"The flu shot is no-cost to members who are in a health plan, but if you're uninsured or want to get it low or no-cost, you can get it through the health department. It can be available at your clinics, pharmacies, walk-in clinics, doctor's offices," says Dr. Khan.
For other ways to find a vaccination site, click here. Remember every provider is following COVID-19 protocols so make sure you're prepared before heading in.