Ascend Medical is dedicated to preventing flu especially because the flu vaccine prevents millions of illnesses and flu-related doctors' visits each year. In fact, during the 2019-2020 flu season, the vaccine prevented an estimated 7/5 million influenza illnesses, 3.7 million influenza-associated medical visits, 105,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations, and 6,300 influenza-associated deaths.
Research by the CDC also suggests additional health benefits. For instance, the vaccine decreased the likelihood of pregnant women contracting flu-associated acute respiratory infections by one-half. In addition, the flu vaccine helps prevent complications for people with chronic health conditions, such as lung disease and heart disease. Studies show the vaccine reduces a child's risk of dying from the flu.
How Flu Vaccines Work
Flu vaccines protect against the influenza strains (usually three or four) that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming flu season. The vaccine stimulates the body to produce antibodies against the virus. It takes about two weeks for the vaccine to offer protection against the flu.
Why You Need the Flu Shot Every Year
There are two reasons individuals should receive a flu vaccine every year. First, immune protection from a vaccine diminishes over time. An annual vaccine stimulates the body to produce more antibodies that fight the influenza virus. Second, flu viruses are constantly adapting and mutating. Each year, researchers update the flu vaccine is updated to protect against the viruses that are likely to be the most common during the upcoming flu season. For best protection, individuals ages 6 months and up should receive a flu vaccine annually.
Why it is Especially Important this Year
"This year, receiving a flu vaccine is more important than ever," explains Dr. Michael Smith, Chief Medical Officer at Ascend Medical.
During the upcoming flu season, with both the flu and COVID-19 viruses circulating, hospitals may face shortages, limiting their ability to care for people who are seriously ill with the flu, COVID-19, or both. In addition, people can get COVID-19 and the flu at the same time. While both COVID-19 and influenza have similar symptoms, such as fever, chills, fatigue, body aches, and coughs, a recent study indicated people who had COVID-19 and influenza B were sicker than those who had COVID-19 alone.
Therefore, individuals who contract influenza this season may also need to be tested for COVID-19, and quarantine until they get the result.
Who Should Not Get a Flu Vaccine?
Everyone 6 months of age and older should receive an influenza vaccine, with some exceptions. Factors such as a person's age, health (and health history), and any allergies to the flu vaccine or it's components all influence whether an individual should receive an annual flu shot. The following demographics should AVOID receiving a flu vaccination:
- Children younger than 6 months of age.
- Individuals with severe, life-threatening allergies to the flu vaccination or ingredients within the flu vaccination.
- Individuals with a history of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (a severe paralyzing illness, also called GBS).
- In addition, individuals 65 years and older may require the adjuvanted or high-dose vaccine.
Where to Get Your Flu Shot
The flu vaccine is available in many different venues. Individuals can check with their doctor or health plan to find local flu vaccine clinics. Vaccines are also available at drug stores, supermarkets, and health clinics. Depending on insurance, the flu vaccine may be free.
Looking for a more immediate solution to getting your seasonal flu vaccine? At Ascend Medical, we're re-imagining modern healthcare to create a primary care system that revolves around you. We offer membership-based healthcare services, mobile diagnostics, and 24/7, on-demand virtual visits to address all of your health concerns - exactly when and where it's convenient for you. Book your same day appointment today!