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November 04, 2020

The Flu Shot: Questions, misconceptions, and why it’s so important this year.

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The Flu Shot: Questions, misconceptions, and why it’s so important this year.

What is the flu shot?  

The flu shot is a vaccine administered annually to prevent the spread of the influenza virus and reduce the severity of your symptoms if you contract the flu. 

When is flu season? 

It changes from year to year, but in general, fall and winter is peak flu season. 

The CDC recommends getting your flu shot by the end of October so it’s too late now…  

It’s not too late! Most of this year’s flu season is still ahead of us. Plusmany cases of influenza still occur after peak flu season. It’s best for you and for the people around you that you get the flu shot when you can, even if you’re a little late to the party.  

Where can I get a flu shot?  

There are many options! You can visit a pharmacy or make an appointment with your doctor. KC CARE will provide flu shots at our pharmacy every Friday OR you can schedule an appointment by calling 816-753-5144.  

How does the flu shot work?  

The flu shot is made up of dead virus strains. After you get your shot, your immune system will create antibodies to combat those strains over the next two weeksDuring these two weeks, you are still susceptible to getting the flu. That means that if you get your flu shot on Nov. 1, you won’t be fully protected until Nov. 14. While it’s not too late, you should not wait to get your flu shot. 

Can I have a bad reaction to the flu shot? 

Yes, however these cases are very rare. The most common side effects of the flu shot are redness or soreness at the injection site. In some cases, you may also feel dizzy, get body aches, chills, or a fever. However, the flu shot is different every year, so if you had a bad reaction last year, it does not mean you will have a reaction again this year.  

I’m nervous about getting my flu shot because I’m pregnant. 

The flu tends to be worse for people who are pregnant, and it is very serious for newborns. Pregnant people are at higher risk for severe complications from the flu. It is very important that you get your flu shot if you are pregnant and that those around you get their flu shot too. If you are still nervous, please consult your doctor. Click here if you are in need of prenatal care or if you want to know more about being pregnant during this pandemic. 

Can you get the flu from the flu shot? 

No. You may have a reaction and experience dizziness, body aches, chills or fever, but this is not the flu, and is generally very short-lived (1-2 days at most).  

The flu shot isn’t effective because it’s based on last year’s strain of flu. 

False! Over the course of the year data from over 100 countries around the world is collected. Hospitals and lab scientists track and monitor influenza from the previous year and monitor how various strains develop or change. This information is then analyzed to see what strains seem to be the most prominent for the upcoming year, NOT the previous year. The World Health Organization convenes medical professionals and scientists in each hemisphere to make determinations on the 3-4 virus strains that we need to protect against in the flu shot, and then the flu shot begins to be manufactured. 

Can I still get the flu even if I had my flu shot? 

 Yes. You could get a strain of the flu that was not included in the flu shot, or even one of the predicted strains. However, your symptoms will likely be less severe and will not last as long if you got a flu shot. Your flu shot could be the difference between being hospitalized and being able to recover at home. This is critical during a flu season during which time the healthcare system is already strained due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

What is the difference between COVID-19 and influenza? 

While both viruses cause respiratory problems, there are many similarities and differences between the two viruses and how they spread. For example, both viruses can be spread by people who are asymptomatic! Getting your flu shot not only protects you, but the people around you. Click here for the full details on all the similarities and differences between COVID-19 and influenza.  

I’m social distancing so I don’t need a flu shot. 

It’s true that those things will help reduce the infection rate of influenza and COVID-19. However, the flu shot is another tool to protect yourself and your family. Social distancing alone will reduce your likelihood of infection, but social distancing, hand washing, mask wearingand the flu shot give you and your family the best defense against the flu and other illnesses 

Still not sure? One final reason why getting your flu shot so important this year. 

Year after year, during flu season, hospitals reach capacity with flu patientsThe impact of a hospital full of flu patients, when it is already strained by COVID-19 would be a completely overwhelmed healthcare system. This is especially tough on health care workers and emergency rooms. Every person who gets a flu shot is reducing their risk of getting the flu or serious case of the flu, and that means one less person in the hospital during this stressful time 


American Academy of Family Physicians:  https://www.aafp.org/afp/topicModules/viewTopicModule.htm?topicModuleId=14   

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm   

World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/influenza/en/