Having the flu makes you feel awful, but there is something you can do to lower your risk of getting it: Get a flu shot. Getting a flu shot every year is the most effective way to protect yourself. Healthy Blue members can get a flu shot at no cost.
Influenza, better known as the flu, is a serious virus. It can keep you out of school or work for up to 10 days. Symptoms of the flu include a runny nose, sneezing and a sore throat. More serious symptoms include fever, muscle aches and the chills. It can make you so sick that you end up in the hospital. Problems from the flu can even sometimes lead to death. Young children, pregnant women, seniors and those with compromised immune systems are at greatest risk for serious complications.
Everyone is at risk of getting the flu. That’s why the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends people age 6 months and older get a flu shot every year to protect themselves and their loved ones. However, if you have a history of egg allergies, you should talk to your doctor before getting the flu shot.
Flu season runs from October to May. New vaccines are developed each year, because viruses can change year to year. The earlier you get a flu shot, the better your chance of being protected. It takes about two weeks after getting the shot for it to work best. The CDC recommends getting the flu shot before the end of October. Getting the shot as late as February will still help protect you. It’s better to get it late than not at all.
There are many places you can get a flu shot. You can get one at your doctor’s office, clinics, health departments, school health centers and at many pharmacies.
Some people think the flu vaccine can give you the flu, but that’s not true. Flu vaccines cannot cause the flu. Some people report having mild reactions to getting a flu shot. These may last one to two days. Symptoms can include soreness where the shot was given, low-grade fever, headache and muscle aches.
Getting a yearly flu shot can make a BIG difference. It not only helps defend against the flu, but can also help protect the people you care about, like your friends, family and coworkers.
To learn more about the flu or the flu shot, go to www.cdc.gov/flu or call the 24-Hour Nurseline at 1-866-577-9710 (TTY 1-800-368-4424). Our helpful and experienced nurses are just a phone call away 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
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Dr. Imtiaz Khan is currently the Medical Director for Healthy Blue, the Medicaid sector of BlueChoice HealthPlan. Dr. Khan received his medical degree from Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences and completed his postgraduate work at the Greenville Hospital System in Greenville, SC. He is board-certified by the American Board of Family Medicine and is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians.