School is back in session, and now it’s flu season again. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages everyone 6 months of age and older to get a flu vaccine.

School is back in session, and now it’s flu season again. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages everyone 6 months of age and older to get a flu vaccine.

“Flu shots are available now, and health experts recommend getting a flu vaccine by the end of October,” said Dan Sabourin, R.N., MBA, Workforce Wellness manager at Lake Regional Health System. “After vaccination, it takes two weeks for full immunity to build, so you want to get protected now, before flu viruses begin spreading.”

Learn more about the flu vaccine in this Q&A from the CDC.

Can a flu shot give you the flu?

No. Flu vaccines given with a needle (i.e., flu shots) are currently made in two ways: the vaccine is made either with a) flu viruses that have been ‘inactivated’ (killed) and that therefore are not infectious, or b) using only a single gene from a flu virus (as opposed to the full virus) in order to produce an immune response without causing infection.

I hate shots. How important is the flu vaccine?

Flu can be a serious disease, particularly among young children, older adults and people with certain chronic health conditions, such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes. Any flu infection can carry a risk of serious complications, hospitalization or death, even among otherwise healthy children and adults.

What about people who get a seasonal flu vaccine and still get sick with flu symptoms?

There are several reasons why someone might get flu symptoms, even after they have been vaccinated against flu.
Some respiratory viruses besides flu, such as the common cold, cause symptoms similar to flu and also spread and cause illness during the flu season. The flu vaccine only protects against influenza, not other illnesses.
It is possible to be exposed to influenza viruses, which cause the flu, shortly before getting vaccinated or during the two-week period after vaccination that it takes the body to develop immune protection. This exposure may result in a person becoming ill with flu before protection from the vaccine takes effect.
There are many different flu viruses that spread and cause illness among people. Some people may be exposed to a flu virus that is very different from the viruses the vaccine is designed to protect against. The ability of a flu vaccine to protect a person depends largely on the similarity or “match” between the viruses selected to make the vaccine and those spreading and causing illness.
It’s also true that the flu vaccine can vary in how well it works, and some people who get vaccinated may still get sick.

Does the vaccine protect against stomach flu, too?

No. What people call the stomach flu is not related to influenza. Influenza is an upper respiratory infection that often brings a high fever and can lead to severe pneumonia.

Do I really need a flu vaccine every year?

Yes. The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for just about everyone 6 months and older, even when the viruses the vaccine protects against have not changed from the previous season. The reason for this is that a person’s immune protection from vaccination declines throughout time, so an annual vaccination is needed to get the best protection against the flu.

Where can I get a flu shot?

Lake Regional makes vaccination easy with several opportunities to get a flu shot.

Lake Regional Primary Care Clinics: All seven Lake Regional primary care clinics — Camdenton, Eldon, Iberia, Lake Ozark, Laurie, Lebanon and Osage Beach — provide flu shots for established patients during regular office hours. Scheduled appointments are preferred.

Lake Regional Pharmacy: Lake Regional Pharmacy offers flu shots at each of its five locations: Camdenton, Eldon, Lake Ozark, Laurie and Osage Beach. The quadrivalent vaccine is $25; the high-dose trivalent vaccine (recommended only for seniors 65 years and older) is $60. Medicare and most insurance plans cover the cost. Walk-ins are welcome.

Lake Regional Occupational Medicine: Lake Regional Occupational Medicine offers flu vaccination services for area employers. Businesses can send employees to either the Osage Beach or Lebanon clinic location. Flexible payment options are available, including direct bill, insurance billing and cash payments. Also, small businesses may use vouchers to send employees to the clinic. For more information, contact Occupational Medicine clinic manager Rachel Bailey at 573-348-8045 or 417-991-3103.

Learn more about influenza, including treatment tips, at lakeregional.com/flu.