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FRESH In: Fall Flu Shots

Have you been postponing your annual flu shot, thinking you’ll get around to it eventually? As your pharmacist, I want to encourage you to just do it! Flu shots are now available in the FRESH pharmacy.

Flu, short for influenza, is a highly contagious respiratory illness that can cause serious illness and very uncomfortable, lingering symptoms. The flu vaccine protects you against the strains of flu that scientists forecast will be the most prevalent this year. For most people, it’s a safe, effective way to protect yourself from a potentially serious illness that can put you out of commission for a week or more.

Still on the fence about receiving the influenza vaccine this year? Let me answer some of the questions we’re hearing around the pharmacy.

Is it already time to get my flu shot? I thought I usually got them later in the fall. Some years, there are production issues, and the flu antivirus is hard to find early in the season; sometimes it’s even limited to high-risk populations at first. But this year, there’s plenty to go around, so you don’t need to wait.

Who really needs a shot? Flu shots are recommended for EVERYONE 6 months and older.  However, some populations, such as young children and the elderly, are more at risk of contracting the flu, and may develop more serious, even life-threatening symptoms. So, it’s especially important that flu shots are given to children, the elderly, and anyone who cares for or regularly comes in contact with these groups.

When does flu season start? Flu season usually begins in October and lasts until May, but most flu cases occur in January and February. You can get your shot at any time during this window, but remember , it can take up to two weeks for full protection to develop after you receive the shot. Protection after receiving the vaccine lasts about one year.

Can I bring my grandmother? What about my children?Yes, and maybe! We can administer shots to any person over age four years. However, we recommend that children ages 8 and under receive their flu shot at their pediatrician’s office because of slightly different shot protocol for younger children. (For instance, children six months to 8 years who are receiving influenza vaccine for the first time must receive two shots, separated by several weeks.) If you do bring in a child between ages 4 to 8 for a flu shot, please bring their vaccination records so we can provide the appropriate dose.

Who cannot receive the shot? If you are allergic to eggs, have ever had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccine, or have had Guillain-Barre syndrome, you should not get a flu shot. If you have a moderate to  severe cold or other illness, wait until you recover before getting the vaccine.

I’ve heard people say they get sick after receiving a flu shot! What can I expect? Serious illness from aflu shot is very rare.  Some people do develop mild symptoms after receiving a shot, including soreness, redness or swelling where the shot was given, fever, headache and fatigue.  However, these symptoms usually only last a day or two – and they are almost always far less serious than coming down with the actual flu!

Do I need an appointment at FRESH to get my shot? No appointment is necessary, but to avoid any disappointment or inconvenience, allow up to 20 minutes to process paperwork and receive the shot.

What did you say it costs? The flu shot at FRESH is just $20.