Last year’s relatively mild flu season is likely indicative of two things: The vaccine produced was a good match for the prevalent strains of influenza, and this year’s season could be a doozy. The latter point would be borne out by history, which shows that “good” flu seasons are most often followed by “bad” flu seasons. That’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions continues to hammer home the message that early vaccination is strongly advised for all patients over 6 months of age, especially pregnant women, people over 50, people with chronic diseases, and healthcare personnel. When counseling urgent care patients on getting the flu shot—especially those who may reluctant for any reason—stress the following:
- Immunity takes around 2 weeks to build after getting a shot.
- Despite myths to the contrary, people cannot “get the flu” from having a flu shot. People who get the flu after having a shot are most likely to have been exposed prior to vaccination.
- Side effects, which seldom occur at all, are typically mild and limited to low-grade fever and mild body aches for a day or two.
- While young, healthy adults are least likely to experience severe consequences from getting the flu, they can pass infection along to other who are at greater risk, such as young children, the elderly, and anyone with a compromised immune system. (In other words, they should get the shot not only to protect themselves, but their loved ones.)