’Tis the Season: Beat the Flu Before It Beats You

Never fear, protecting yourself now can help keep the germs away all winter! Flu season peaks between December and February, and widespread outbreaks of the flu have been reported in several states. Have questions or concerns about flu season? Learn the facts below!

Myth Busters 
Don’t let a big flu shot myth stop you: you cannot get the flu from a flu shot.

There are some possible side effects, but they’re usually mild. The shot may cause redness, soreness and swelling at the injection site, but an over-the-counter pain reliever may ease these minor side effects. Ask your doctor for more information.

 

Location, Location, Location 
So where can you get a flu shot? Flu shots are offered by many doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, and more, but if you wish to get your flu shot from a provider other than your in-network primary care provider, call the Customer Service number on your Blue Cross and Blue Shield of MT card to make sure your flu shot is covered by the provider. Use the Flu Vaccine Finder to help you find out where to get a flu vaccine in your area.

Who, Me?
Should everyone get the flu vaccine? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that for the 2015-16 flu season all people ages six months and older be vaccinated against influenza, including pregnant women. Children younger than nine years old may need two doses during the same flu season. For everyone else, only one dose is needed each flu season.

A higher dose vaccine may be recommended for those 65 and older. Since defenses become weaker with age, older people can be at greater risk of severe illness from influenza. The higher dosage in the vaccine may help give older people a better immune response leading to better protection against flu.

What if I Get the Flu?

Flu-like symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. If you experience some or all of these symptoms, you should seek medical treatment right away. There are antiviral drugs available that can be used to treat your illness, but they are most effective within the first two days of your symptoms appearing. Remember, where you go for care matters! Unless your condition is truly life-threatening, steer clear of the emergency room where you could spend much more out of pocket for the same care you would receive elsewhere. Reach out to your primary care physician or go to an urgent care center if your plan allows this service.

Part of the Herd
You know getting vaccinated protects you. But did you know that is also protects the community and your loved ones? Being vaccinated lowers the chance that you will spread the virus, which could be dangerous for young children, older people and those with chronic health conditions. Getting vaccinated to protect others is called “herd immunity.” The herd helps to protect those who cannot get vaccinated.

Germs on the Move
What is the flu, and how do people get it? Influenza is a respiratory disease that is spread mostly from person to person through coughs and sneezes. The flu can spread before any symptoms appear. This is why others can give you the flu even before they know they have it. It’s just one more reason to protect yourself with a flu shot and avoid the chills, fever and high temperatures the flu brings.

It takes about two weeks after vaccination for the shot to protect against flu virus infection, so be sure you’re also taking precautionary measures to avoid the flu in addition to getting vaccinated.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.

 

How Does the Flu Shot Protect Me? 
What exactly does the flu shot protect against? Each year’s flu vaccine is developed to protect against the strains of the virus that scientists predict will be most common in the upcoming flu season. Even in years in which the flu viruses change during the flu season, antibodies from a flu shot are still likely to provide some protection.

Ready for wellness? Talk to your doctor for more information. And make an appointment for your vaccination today.

Most recent update: 4/5/2018

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