By Eric M. Folkens, M.D., Family Medicine –
Bradenton/Lakewood Ranch/Sarasota Urgent Care Walk-In Clinics
When it’s after November and you see signs and banners in your community that advertise, “Get Your Flu Vaccine Here,” you might think, “Isn’t it too late for that?”
The answer is no!
Flu season typically peaks in February and can last as late as May. The CDC encourages people who have not yet been vaccinated to get vaccinated now.
For millions of people every season, the flu can mean a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, fatigue, and miserable days spent in bed. However, you may not realize that more than 200,000 people are hospitalized in the United States from flu complications each year. The flu also can be deadly.
This is why CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older. It’s available in two forms: a shot and a nasal spray. Flu shot options include the regular flu shot, the new intradermal flu shot, and a high-dose flu shot. While the regular flu shot can be given to just about everyone, the intradermal flu shot is approved for use in adults 18 through 64 years of age, and the high-dose flu shot is for people aged 65 years and older. The nasal spray vaccine is approved only for use in healthy people ages 2 to 49 years who aren’t pregnant.
Anyone can get the flu, but some people are at greater risk for serious flu-related complications, like pneumonia, that can lead to hospitalization and even death. For those at greater risk for complications, getting the flu vaccine is especially important. People at greater risk include:
• Children younger than 5 years old, but especially children younger than 2 years old
• Pregnant women
• People with certain medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, or heart and lung disease
• People 65 years and older
It’s also important to get the vaccine if you care for anyone in one or more of these high risk groups, or for babies younger than 6 months because they are too young to get the vaccine.
Children 6 months through 8 years of age getting vaccinated for the first time need two doses of flu vaccine to be fully protected. If a child has not received his/her first dose, get them vaccinated now. For children who are 6 months through 8 years of age and who have been vaccinated with one dose, parents should check with the child’s doctor to see if a second dose is needed.
Getting the flu vaccine is simple, and it’s the most important thing you can do to protect yourself and your family from the flu.
Flu vaccines are offered at many locations, including doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, pharmacies and college health centers. The three convenient Urgent Care Clinic locations serving the Bradenton, Lakewood Ranch, and Sarasota communities have a limited supply of FREE flu vaccinations. Walk-ins are welcome at each location, stop by today for the flu vaccine to protect yourself and your family from being another statistic in this year’s flu pandemic.