It's that time of year when the flu is starting to appear in our community. Are you on the fence about getting your flu shot? Learn more about who should consider the flu shot and what symptoms to watch for.

Why you should get a flu shot

Image Nurse Doctor Holding Vaccine Shot Needle Image Nurse Doctor Holding Vaccine Shot Needle Image Nurse Doctor Holding Vaccine Shot Needle

It's that time of year when the flu is starting to appear in our community. Are you on the fence about getting your flu shot? Consider that Dr. Rocky Fowler with Sentara East Market Street Health Center, suggests everyone six months or older should get the flu vaccine with rare exceptions.

"The only patients I will not give a vaccine to are patients currently running a fever or are allergic to eggs," said Dr. Fowler.

The flu shot stimulates our immune system to produce antibodies against the virus," explained Dr. Fowler. It usually covers the most common strains in our region when administered. It generally takes two weeks for the body to build up an immune response.

There are a lot of myths out there about the flu shot. Some people believe that the flu shot contains a live strain of the virus, or that they actually got the flu from their shot. This simply is not true. If anything, your body mounts a mild response to the vaccine, such as a cough and runny nose. You can get the flu shot from most pharmacies and clinics.

"Most health professionals can administer this vaccine. I don't care where my patients get the vaccine, just as long as they get it," said Fowler. "I always ask my patients a simple question: Do you think you are susceptible to the flu? Surprisingly, the answer is no most of the time. I educate my patients on how deadly the flu is and can kill very easily. Some flu years are worse than others. People who have an effective immune system can protect loved ones who are immunocompromised by getting the flu vaccine so they don't bring the virus home, as it can be fatal to someone with a lowered immune system."

If you do come down with flu-like symptoms, it is important to see your primary care provider as soon as possible. According to the CDC flu like symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Runny Nose
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Muscle Aches

Make an appointment immediately with your provider if you have any of these flu like symptoms. Within 48 hours of experiencing flu symptoms, medication can be given to reduce the duration of the flu. The flu can go from being mild to severe quickly, so it is important to see a provider like Dr. Fowler immediately.

If you do happen to catch the flu, even after having the flu shot, the side effects will be much milder. It is important if you are infected with the flu that you stay home from work or school. Make sure to wash your hands frequently and do what you can so you do not spread the virus and affect those who are most vulnerable in our society.

"Small children and elderly are our most vulnerable population," said Fowler, "focused efforts should be placed there to increase vaccination rates in our community."