Medical Corner: Flu Season

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Education

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Education

Tips for Protecting Yourself (and your family) During this Year’s Flu Season
By: Ian Gyamfi Sarpong, Pharmacy Manager, Walgreens

Last year’s flu season was one of the most severe in recent history, with record-breaking hospitalization rates across the country, according to the CDC. Here in Chicago, the flu virus took a toll on communities, closing numerous schools and curbing fun holiday activities for thousands with flu-like symptoms. While no two flu seasons are alike, and it being impossible to predict how severe this year’s flu season will be or when it will spike, we do know is that getting a flu shot remains the best protection against influenza. We also know that people have a lot of questions about flu immunizations, so we compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions we hear in our pharmacies to help individuals protect themselves and their loved ones this flu season. Here’s what you need to know as flu activity picks up.

When should I get a flu shot?
Flu immunizations can take up to two weeks to become effective, so it is recommended that you get your flu immunization as early as possible. And if you haven’t gotten a flu shot yet, it’s not too late. With holiday travel and gatherings just around the corner, the flu vaccine should be on the top of everyone’s to-do list.

Who should get the flu shot?
The CDC recommends all individuals six months and older get an annual flu shot. This includes children, adults, older individuals and pregnant women. Individuals should consult their pharmacist or doctor if they have any concerns and to determine the appropriate vaccination for them, which may include a high-dose vaccine recommended for those over age 65 or a quadrivalent vaccine, which protects against four strains of influenza, among other options. Before heading out to get your flu shot, remember state, age, and health restrictions may apply when getting an immunization at a local pharmacy. In Illinois, for example, children 10 and under must have immunizations performed by their pediatricians.

Who does the flu shot protect?
The flu shot protects both individuals who get it as well as those with whom they come into contact. Flu vaccinations may help protect those around you whose immune systems are compromised as well as infants who are too young to be immunized.

Does the flu shot prevent the flu?
The flu shot is the best defense against the flu, but it does not eliminate the risk of contracting the virus altogether. However, those who get the flu vaccination and contract the flu virus will likely have less severe symptoms and recover faster than those who did not get the flu shot.

How much do flu shots cost?
The flu shot is covered by most insurance plans with a $0 copay for customers. Individuals paying cash should check with their doctor or pharmacist for specific cost information.

How does the flu spread?
The flu virus spreads from person-to-person via physical contact and may live on surfaces you interact with every day, such as doorknobs, phones, and toys. Be cognizant of touching your mouth, nose, or eyes after being in contact with someone exhibiting flu-like symptoms or these surfaces and wash your hands often. Remember, though, the flu vaccine is still the best defense against the virus.

What are the symptoms of flu?
The most common symptoms of flu are fever, cough, and sore throat. Symptoms can also include body aches, headache, chills, runny nose and fatigue. Symptoms may last from a few days up to a week or more.

Can the flu shot give me the flu?
No. The flu shot is not a live vaccine, so it cannot give a person the flu.
Flu season is officially here, and while we can’t speculate as to what this season will bring, we are encouraged by the number of Chicagoans who have already taken the important step toward protecting themselves by getting their flu immunization. Talk to your friends and loved ones about the importance of flu immunizations, and together we can make this holiday season a happier and healthier one for everyone.

Ian Gyamfi-Sarpong is a pharmacy manager at Walgreens in Chicago’s Lawndale neighborhood. For more information or to find a pharmacy near you, visit Flu shots are available at all Walgreens pharmacies during pharmacy hours with no appointment needed.

Comments are closed.