Looking for the best way to prevent suffering from chills, fever, and all-over aches? Your best bet is a flu shot.
Who should get one?
Provided that supplies are available, anyone wishing to avoid the flu should get a flu shot. It's a simple, relatively painless and affordable way to stay healthier during the winter months—and to do your part in preventing the spread of the influenza virus.
Those most at risk for complications from the flu include pregnant women, children aged six months to five years, people 50 and older, people living in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, and people with certain chronic medical conditions (check with your doctor to see if this applies to you).
Some people should not be vaccinated without first consulting a physician. They include:
- Anyone who has a severe allergy to chicken eggs
- People who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination in the past
- People who developed Guillian-Barre syndrome (GBS) within 6 weeks of getting an influenza vaccine previously
- Children younger than 6 months (influenza vaccine is not approved for use in this age group)
If you have a moderate or severe illness with a fever, you should wait to get vaccinated until these symptoms lessen. If you have questions about whether you should get a flu vaccine, consult your doctor.
Why should you get a flu shot?
Maybe you don't get your yearly shot because you don't like needles, or you're one of those people who prefer just to tough it out. Whatever the case, you might want to realign your thinking and go in for a flu shot.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), "Influenza is a serious disease, and people of any age can get it. In an average year, the flu causes 36,000 deaths (mostly among those 65 and older) and more than 200,000 hospitalizations." Those are some big numbers, and you don't want to be among them.
What about supplies?
Some people think that if they're healthy, they shouldn't get a shot because those who are at higher risk should get shots first. However, there should be plenty of shots available. According to the CDC, "Currently, manufacturers project as many as 160-165 million doses of flu vaccine to be produced this season."
Are flu shots covered by your health plan?
In many cases, flu shots are now covered under the Affordable Care Act. If you're a Regence member, check your coverage under Immunizations in your benefit booklet. Or, contact Member Services using the number on the back of your member card to find out how your plan covers flu shots.
Where do you get one?
Flu shots are available through a variety of providers:
- Ask your company if it will be holding an onsite flu shot clinic.
- Contact your primary care provider.
- Go to a participating pharmacy or clinic.
To find immunization providers near you, go to the Flu Vaccine Finder and type in your ZIP code.