The flu kills an average of 20,000 people every year–even those considered healthy. Though it tends to be a much debated topic, 105,00 flu hospitalizations were prevented by vaccinations during the 2019-2020 influenza season.
The flu season begins in October and lasts through February each year. It is considered an annual epidemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it is especially important this year to help reduce the spread of respiratory illnesses, like the flu.
Knowing that most Michiganders go unprotected from this illness, learning the facts of the flu vaccine is one of the best ways to protect yourself and others against potentially fatal consequences.
Know the Facts
- The flu vaccine does not cause the flu: The flu vaccination consists of inactivated flu virus particles and therefore cannot replicate and give an individual influenza. It is possible that a patient may experience symptoms after a shot however, they are significantly less severe than the flu.
- The flu vaccine is effective: While there’s always a risk of contracting the flu, vaccinations significantly lower the risk and protect patients from experiencing severe symptoms in case they do become ill.
- Influenza affects adults and children: The annual strains of Influenza virus pose a risk for people of all ages. An annual influenza vaccination is recommended for all those ages six months and older who do not have a contraindication to the vaccine.
- Chronic conditions heighten the risk: Patients managing diabetes, heart disease, asthma/COPD and other chronic disease are at a higher risk poor outcomes due to contracting the flu virus. The symptoms of flu disease combined with pre-existing conditions can potentially lead to fatal results.
- Vaccinations during pregnancy: According to the CDC, the flu is more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women. Studies show that pregnant woman who receive vaccinations can also protect the baby from the flu post-birth.
- Healthy people need the vaccine, too: Though individuals managing chronic conditions are especially urged to get vaccinated, those with a clean bill of health should do so as well. Not only does it keep the individual safe, it lowers the likelihood of spreading illness to those who are more susceptible.
- Flu season continues past fall: While the most common time to get vaccinated is between October and November, preventive measures should continue throughout January and February. But keep in mind flu season can last as long as April or May. According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, January through February is considered the “peak time” of flu season.
- Symptoms aren’t always obvious: Most people who contract influenza will recover in one to two weeks, but some may develop serious complications from the virus that impact their respiratory systems. For safe measure, take all symptoms seriously and consult a primary care provider with questions or concerns. Early symptoms of the flu may include cough, diarrhea, fever or feverish/chills, fatigue, headaches, sore throat, muscle or body aches, upset stomach, runny or stuffy nose, vomiting.
Does my insurance cover flu shots? Blue Cross members can find out how much of the cost will be covered and where to get one at bcbsm.com/preventflu.