Flu Shots

boy getting a flu shotEvery year, local health departments and other health care organizations offer influenza vaccinations. Influenza, commonly known as the "flu," is a viral infection that can lead to a much more serious illness like pneumonia, bronchitis, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration. The flu also worsens chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.

More than 200,000 people are hospitalized every year from complications of the flu. Unfortunately, between 3,000 and 49,000 people die from the flu each year in the United States. Senior adults and young children are especially vulnerable to the flu. Flu shots can help you and protect your friends and family by keeping you from spreading the flu to others.

Flu shots cannot give you the flu. All shots have possible side effects, but they are usually mild. Sometimes people have a severe reaction to a shot but those cases are rare. However, you should not get the flu shot if you are allergic to chicken eggs, had a severe reaction to a flu shot in the past, or have an illness with a fever. In any case, ask your doctor if there is any reason that you will have a bad reaction to a flu shot.

The flu vaccine cannot totally prevent you from getting the flu. However, if you get a flu shot and then you get the flu during the flu season, you should not become as sick as you would have without the shot.

It is easy to get a flu shot. You can get a flu shot at your doctor's office, the health department, or even while you are in the hospital. Medicare will pay for flu shots even if you do not have a doctor’s order. Medicare will pay for your shot anywhere flu shots are given under Medicare rules.

Even though Medicare pays for flu shots, less than half of all seniors age 65 and over get their flu shots each year. If you’re a senior or know someone who is, encourage him or her to get a flu shot.

You should get a flu shot every year. Even if you have had the flu last year, you need to protect yourself against each new type of flu every year. The best time to get your shot is in the fall, but getting a booster each year is recommended.

Your local health department, some pharmacies, and your doctor can give you information about flu shots and your other health needs.


Sources: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and Centers for Disease Control

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