It’s time to get your flu shot. This season more than ever you need protection from the flu. We don’t know how COVID-19 will mix in with flu approaching or whether the use of masks, social distancing and other prevention methods will keep flu infections down. We do know we need to keep our health care system from getting even more overwhelmed and we wouldn’t want to catch the flu on top of COVID-19. We also know unlike the unknowns of COVID 19, the serious complications the flu can cause. This year’s flu shot will offer protection against three or four of the influenza viruses expected to circulate this flu season. High dose flu vaccine will also be available for adults age 65 and older. The flu can cause serious complications, particularly in young children, older adults and those with certain medical conditions. The CDC recommends annual flu vaccination for everyone age 6 months and older. It may take up to 2 weeks to build immunity so get your flu shot as soon as possible. Children between ages 6 months to 8 years may need two doses of the flu vaccine, given at least 4 weeks apart, the first time they are given a flu vaccine. After that, they can receive single annual doses. Most people should get the flu shot but check with your doctor before receiving the vaccine if you have a severe allergy to eggs or if you had a severe reaction to a previous flu vaccine. The flu vaccine can’t give you the flu but you may develop flu like symptoms for a few days despite getting the flu vaccine.
This could be due to a reaction to the vaccine, or you may have been exposed to the flu prior to getting vaccinated. The flu vaccine can’t protect you from getting COVID-19. However, the flu and coronavirus cause similar symptoms and getting the flu vaccine could reduce symptoms that might be confused with those caused by COVID-19. This year’s flu vaccine has a Type A (H1N1) like virus, a Type A (H3N2) like virus and a Type B (B/Victoria lineage) like virus and the quadrivalent vaccine has an additional Type B (B/Yamagata lineage) like virus. There are egg-based vaccines and cell or recombinant-based flu vaccines available. Delivery methods come in two forms, an injectable and a nasal spray. The nasal spray is approved for people between age 2 and 49 years old. The nasal spray isn’t recommended for some people so check with your doctor. This year the Medina County Health Unit will be providing flu vaccine to those that can’t afford to pay or have no health insurance through our Texas Vaccine for Children program and the Adult Safety Net program. In the past, we have not had the option to provide flu vaccine to adults who could otherwise not afford it and had no health insurance. Because the vaccine is provided to us by the State, we may not have it as soon as larger chains like HEB or Walmart may have their vaccine in. We will not be providing the nasal spray. In the past, we have had flu vaccine available for a cost and had vaccine available for Medicare clients. Due to increased availability at larger pharmacy chains and the easier access to getting the shot, we will provide instead to those who are uninsured and provide the opportunity for all to get vaccinated.
By Patricia Mechler
Medina County Health Unit