Dr. Gregory T. Williams, MD, Chief of Infectious Disease Answers Common Questions about the Flu Vaccine
Q: Do I really need a flu shot this year?
Yes, you do. It’s difficult to predict how mild or severe a flu season will be in any given year. The flu can be deadly – deaths from the flu range from approximately 15,000 to 70,000 people each year according to the CDC. Your best protection against serious illness is getting an annual flu shot. Remember, you can get the flu by itself or even at the same time as COVID-19. The flu can be especially dangerous for those who have chronic health problems like asthma, heart disease, diabetes and a number of other chronic health conditions. That’s why we recommend annual flu shots for all patients over 6 months old. Getting vaccinated is an important way to lower your chance of a serious health threat from the flu.
Q: Is it true you can catch the flu from a flu shot
No, a flu shot cannot give you the flu. Flu vaccines utilize an inactive virus or virus particles that can’t make you sick. Some people may get a low-grade fever after their flu shot that goes away within one to two days. They may think they caught the flu, but they are really just having an immune response. If you catch the flu shortly after a flu shot, it may be because you have not had time to build up the protective antibodies which protect you from the flu. It takes about two weeks for your antibodies to build up and become effective after a flu shot.
Q: Is it too early to get a flu shot?
No, for most people who need only one dose of flu vaccine, September and October are generally the best months to be vaccinated against the flu.
Q: I’m confused about which flu vaccine to get. Why so many?
It’s true that there are a number of different flu vaccines made each year. But you don’t have to know what “quadrivalent” means to get the right flu shot. Just ask your healthcare provider what vaccine is right for you. Each flu vaccine serves a different need. For instance, some people have had severe allergic reactions(anaphylaxis) to eggs so they need a vaccine that is completely egg-free. For those 65 and over, there is a NEW recommendation for preferential use of higher dose or adjuvanted vaccine if available. Note that all flu vaccines approved for this season are quadrivalent vaccines, which means they are designed to protect you against four different flu viruses.
Q: Where can I find a flu shot this year?
It’s easy to find a convenient way to get your flu shot. Flu vaccines are now available at all Reliant primary care offices. If you have an upcoming appointment, you can receive your flu shot then. You can also schedule an appointment for a flu shot by calling your primary care provider’s office or by using MyChart. For MyChart, simply click on “schedule an appointment” and then use the “flu shot” option. Parents can schedule a flu shot for their child using MyChart as long as they are under 18. You can also receive a flu shot at many pharmacies, grocery stores, local health departments and other locations.
About Gregory T. Williams, MD, Chief of Infectious Disease
Ever since he was a child, Dr. Greg T. Williams knew he wanted to be a doctor. “It was just one of those things, I always knew I wanted to be in medicine. I think it was a combination of enjoying science and wanting to help others that led me to decide to become a doctor,” he explains.
Dr. Williams works in the Division of Infectious Disease at Reliant Medical Group, helping to diagnose and treat a wide range of viral, bacterial,...View profile View posts by this doctor