Fall has arrived – and that means flu season is also here. We encourage you to 1) Wash your hands and 2) Get vaccinated so your risk of serious illness decreases. We also encourage you to stay home when you are sick so you can rest and recuperate.
From 2010 through 2016, flu vaccination prevented millions of illnesses, tens of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths – EACH FLU SEASON. This is just a small piece of the empirical evidence that proves annual vaccination combined with good hand hygiene is our best protection against the flu. It reduces our risk of serious complications and hospitalization if we do get sick.
You may think it’s best to wait until winter to get your flu vaccination, but it takes about two weeks, after vaccination, for the body to build an immune response. Getting vaccinated early means you’re protected from the beginning of flu season to when it hits its peak.
In addition to influenza, we’re also keeping an eye on the latest COVID strains. While the severity of the pandemic has faded, there are still thousands of hospitalizations and hundreds of deaths in the U.S. each week. Experts worry that immunity from previous vaccinations and infections is fading in many people and feel that a new shot would save many lives.
The viruses that cause influenza and COVID-19 change over time, requiring scientists to update the vaccines to provide better protection from serious illness. The flu vaccine is updated yearly based on what scientists believe will be the most common strains. This process has worked for over 50 years to prevent severe illness and death.
Scientists are now taking the same approach with the COVID-19 vaccine. The new monovalent vaccine booster is designed to address strains of the virus that have caused an increase in hospitalizations over the last few months. The monovalent vaccine booster is safe and your best protection against COVID-19.
Both vaccines are approved by the CDC and recommended for everyone over the age of 6 months. The COVID vaccine has received full approval by the CDC for those over the age of 12 years old and up. The COVID vaccine has Emergency Use approval for those children aged 6 months to 12 years old.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: Where can I get a flu shot?
A: There are many options to get your flu shots. Check with your doctor’s office. Many local retail pharmacies also offer flu shots. You can find a list by visiting vaccines.gov/find-vaccines/ and typing in your zip code.
Q: Where can I get the monovalent vaccine booster?
A: The new vaccine is available at pharmacies, health centers and some doctor’s offices. Locations are listed on the government’s vaccines.gov/find-vaccines/ website. Federal officials said the new COVID shots will be free to most Americans through private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid.
If you get a vaccination (flu, COVID, other) outside of your doctor’s office, please notify your doctor so they can add it to your medical record.
Q: Is it okay to get my flu shot and the monovalent vaccine booster at the same time?
A: Yes. The CDC says there is no difference in effectiveness or side effects if people get these vaccines simultaneously, although one in each arm might be more comfortable.
Q: Are there side effects?
A: According to the CDC, the most common reactions reported after receiving these vaccines are pain, redness and swelling where the shot was given, and headache, fever, muscle aches, chills or fatigue.