flu shot

Navigating the onset of flu season brings the annual challenge of distinguishing between the symptoms of the flu and common colds, a task made more complex by their occasional overlap. A flu shot can help protect against the flu, keeping your immune system strong enough to fight off other infections.

Flu symptoms may include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, fatigue, and a runny or stuffy nose. It is difficult to differentiate influenza from COVID-19 or another respiratory virus, therefore seeking testing is critical to determine if treatment is needed as treatment is available for high risk individuals if diagnosed early in their disease process.

One common concern during flu season is the possibility of falling ill back-to-back, experiencing both the flu and another respiratory infection within a short timeframe. Unfortunately, it is indeed possible to contract different illnesses sequentially, therefore reinforcing your immune system by practicing good hygiene, getting adequate sleep, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help to reduce the risk of falling prey to multiple illnesses.

Read: The power of food as medicine during flu season

While getting a flu shot is recommended for all, it holds particular significance for individuals with compromised immune systems and cardiovascular risk factors.

Individuals with compromised immune systems face unique challenges during flu season, making vaccination a top priority. Conditions such as HIV/AIDS, certain cancers, organ transplants, and autoimmune diseases can weaken the body's ability to fight infections effectively. To protect against the flu, immunocompromised individuals are strongly encouraged to get a flu shot. 

Another group who should be sure to be vaccinated against influenza are people with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, or any other condition which raises the risk for heart attack.  Infection with influenza significantly increases the risk for subsequent heart attack and multiple studies have shown the protective effect of yearly flu vaccine as an important way to prevent heart attacks. 

Beyond immunocompromised individuals and those with cardiovascular risk factors, various groups should prioritize getting a flu shot to safeguard their health and the well-being of those around them. This includes:

  1. Young Children and Infants: Children under the age of five, especially those under two, are more vulnerable to flu complications.
  2. Pregnant Women: Pregnant women are at an increased risk of severe illness from the flu. Getting vaccinated protects both the mother and the unborn child.
  3. Elderly Individuals: Adults aged 65 and older are more susceptible to flu-related complications, making vaccination crucial for their well-being.
  4. Healthcare Workers: Those working in healthcare settings should get vaccinated to protect themselves and prevent the spread of the flu to vulnerable patients.

Read: What to expect and how to protect your family this flu season

This flu season, Jennifer Veltman, MD, chair of infectious diseases, recommends prioritizing your health and those around you by getting a flu shot. Your decision to vaccinate is a powerful act of protection, contributing to a resilient community and a safer, healthier winter.  Plus it’s always nice to stay out of the hospital during the holiday season and flu vaccine can certainly reduce your risk of hospitalization from flu! 

To schedule a flu shot for you or your family, schedule a vaccine appointment on MyChart or contact Loma Linda University Primary Care at 909-255-3236.

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