Combatting the Common Bug
Getting your annual flu shot is more important than ever this year as cases of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) continue to increase in the North State. Taking this simple step will help protect you, your family and your community.
“Enloe Medical Center is encouraging folks to get vaccinated and expects to vaccinate thousands,” said Margie Rackley, a program assistant at Enloe’s Outpatient Center and the coordinator of Enloe’s annual free community vaccination clinics. Provided by Butte County Public Health, the vaccines offered at these clinics cover four common flu strains and are appropriate for ages 3 and up.
Enloe Medical Center has hosted similar clinics for more than 20 years. Last year, the medical center provided more than 3,500 flu shots to area residents. With flu season in full swing, we sat down with Rackley and Jenny Kasza, a registered nurse at Enloe’s Endoscopy Clinic, to get the scoop on flu vaccines, who should get one, and the different options available.
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that flu vaccines reduce the risk of getting the flu by between 40-60%," said Margie Rackley, a program assistant at Enloe’s Outpatient Center.
Q: Does a flu vaccination really help?
Rackley: Yes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that flu vaccines reduce the risk of getting the flu by between 40-60%. The vaccine also provides a variety of benefits, including reducing the number of hospitalizations and severe cases, saving lives, and protecting vulnerable populations.
Q: Who needs a flu vaccination?
Kasza: Almost everyone who is 6 months and older, with very rare exceptions, like those who are allergic to eggs. Unfortunately, less than half of Americans take advantage of this preventive vaccine.
Q: What vaccine options are out there?
Kasza: There are several. The vast majority of people receive the standard quadrivalent vaccine. Pregnant women receive a preservative-free vaccine. High-risk populations, including the elderly and individuals who have a compromised immune system, may receive a high-dose vaccine. It’s best to talk to your provider to see which vaccine is best for you and your family.
Anyone over the age of 65 who is looking for the high-dose vaccine for seniors should contact their physician or local pharmacy.
Q: Why should children get their flu shot?
Rackley: The flu can be dangerous for children. The CDC estimates that between 6,000 and 26,000 children younger than 5 are hospitalized every year because of influenza. It’s important to note that if children under the age of 9 receive the flu vaccine for the first time, they’ll need to get a booster shot one month later.
“Flu vaccines cannot cause the flu because they are made with inactivated, or killed, viruses. Millions of people have safely received flu vaccines for decades," said Jenny Kasza, a registered nurse at Enloe’s Endoscopy Clinic.
Q: Should pregnant women get the flu vaccine?
Kasza: Yes, pregnant women are at an increased risk for serious flu-related complications. Research shows that flu vaccinations protect moms and their babies from the flu for several months after delivery.
Q: Can a flu vaccine give you the flu?
Kasza: No, flu vaccines cannot cause the flu because they are made with inactivated, or killed, viruses. Millions of people have safely received flu vaccines for decades.
Q: What are the side effects of the flu vaccine?
Rackley: They are usually mild and go away in a few days. These may include pain or swelling where the shot was given, headache, muscle aches, fever and an upset stomach.
Q: Does the flu vaccine protect folks from COVID-19?
Kasza: No, the flu vaccine only protects you against four common flu strains.
Q: Where can folks learn more?
Rackley: To learn more about vaccines and where you can get your flu shot, visit www.enloe.org/flu, talk to your provider, contact your local pharmacy or visit the Immunization Action Coalition’s webpage on the flu.