Flu Shot Vaccination | Chattanooga, TN
What you need to know about getting your flu shot at AFC Urgent Care of Chattanooga, TN.
What Is the Flu (Influenza)?
Influenza, or flu, strains are highly contagious viruses causing mild to severe respiratory illness, leading to hospitalization or death in extreme cases. Flu symptoms typically last between 5 to 7 days. However, you may feel drained or fatigued for a few weeks before you’re back to normal.
Typical Flu symptoms include:
- Diarrhea or Vomiting (usually in children)
- Body Aches
- Runny Nose
If you believe you may already have the flu, it is important to get tested asap. Our Rapid Molecular Flu Test typically returns results in 15 minutes or less. If tested soon enough, our medical providers can prescribe medications that may help prevent flu complications or shorten the severity and duration of the flu.
Benefits of the Flu Shot Vaccine
Have you ever wondered why you should get the flu vaccine? Or how effective it is? If you’re unsure about getting this year’s flu vaccine, here are 4 ways the flu shot benefits you and your community.
1. The flu vaccine is the #1 way to prevent getting the flu.
A flu shot best protects you against both Influenza A and Influenza B groups. The flu vaccine is updated each year to effectively combat the newest and most rampant flu strains, as they change and evolve every year. While it’s possible to contract the flu while vaccinated, the flu shot reduces the risk of infection by 40% to 60%. You can further prevent your risk of the flu when you practice healthy habits in addition to the vaccine. Practice these for additional protection:
- Wash your hands before and after being in public
- Avoid touching your face until you wash your hands
- Wear a mask in public and high transmission areas
- Avoid public areas if you’re sick from any illness, not just the flu
- Frequently sanitize surfaces at work or home (such as doorknobs, light switches and handles)
Combine these practices with the flu vaccine for the best defense against the flu.
2. The flu shot reduces the risk of severe symptoms and flu-related hospitalization.
As one of the most contagious viruses in the world, it’s nearly impossible to fully avoid the flu. Fortunately, the flu vaccine significantly reduces your chance of infection. However, if you contract the flu while vaccinated, you’ll likely have a mild case and reduced symptoms with a faster route to recovery than those without the flu vaccine. According to data from the CDC, here is how the flu burdened the United States from 2010 to 2021* flu seasons:
- 12,000 to 52,000 deaths annually
- 140,000 to 710,000 hospitalizations annually
- 9 million to 41 million flu illnesses annually
With millions of people infected with the flu, there’s no question that prevention and protection is necessary. Even if you get sick, mild symptoms are manageable compared to a severe experience that may result in hospitalization or long-term illness.
*Excludes the 2020-2021 flu season due to Covid-19
3. The flu shot reduces the excessive spread of flu viruses.
Even if you’re unsure if you need the vaccine, your flu vaccination impacts those around you, especially medically vulnerable populations. While not 100% effective, the flu vaccine trains your immune system to build antibodies that fight flu viruses. When antibodies attack a flu virus, it weakens the virus’s ability to replicate and lessens the number of residual viruses spread on surfaces or to people. By curbing the number of active viruses, getting a flu shot potentially saves lives. As more people get the flu vaccine, the community collectively reduces the risk of rampant flu outbreaks.
4. The flu vaccine aids people at high risk for the flu.
There are several groups that qualify as high risk for the flu, especially those with pre-existing illnesses. The flu shot significantly protects these groups and is more effective when others around them are also vaccinated. If you’re constantly around a person or group that is at high risk for the flu, it’s important you also take precaution by getting a flu shot.
The following groups and conditions are considered high risk for flu and flu complications:
- Adults 65 and older
- Children under 5 years old (Children under 2 are at the highest risk)
- Pregnant people, up to 2 weeks postpartum
- Asthma & COPD
- Heart Disease
- Compromised or weakened immune systems (including former/current cancer patients & patients with HIV/AIDS)
Do I Need to Get a Flu Shot Every Year?
Yes. Flu viruses evolve quickly between flu seasons, and flu strains can be prevalent one year but not the next. An annually updated vaccine allows your immune system to create the most effective antibodies possible against the season’s most active and aggressive strains.
Additionally, the flu vaccine is only effective for nearly 6 months before antibodies start declining. Once those antibodies dissipate, you are more susceptible to flu viruses until you receive your next flu shot for the upcoming season. When you get your yearly flu shot, you’re more adequately equipped for the current season’s most active viruses.
Who should NOT get a flu vaccine?
While it’s rare, there are people who should not get a flu vaccine or need to consult their physician first. Infants under 6 months old and people with life-threatening allergies to common vaccine ingredients should NOT get a flu shot.
Consult with your doctor about getting a flu vaccine if you have any of the following illnesses:
- Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS)
- Egg Allergy (There are alternative vaccines for those with egg allergies)
- Severe Allergic Reactions to Previous Flu Vaccines
If you feel sick, wait until you feel back to normal to receive a flu shot or consult with a physician.
Possible Side Effects of the Flu Vaccine
You may experience mild side effects either minutes or hours following your flu shot appointment. These side effects from the vaccine are NOT caused by the flu, and typically subside the next day. The vaccine takes up to 2 weeks to be fully effective, so it’s possible to contract the flu after receiving a flu shot. Some common side effects from the flu vaccine include:
- Redness or swelling on the injected arm
- Pain/Soreness where you received the vaccine
- Body/Muscle Aches
- Upset Stomach
Severe or extreme side effects from the flu vaccine are rare. If you experience an allergic reaction to the vaccine, contact your primary doctor or AFC Urgent Care as soon as possible.
Flu Testing and Treatment
If you develop flu-like symptoms, visit AFC Urgent Care for fast and accurate flu test results, no appointment is required. Our Rapid Molecular Flu Test typically returns results in 15 minutes or less. If you do have the flu, we also offer treatment, helping you find the best road to recovery. You don’t have to worry about finding treatment on your own. It’s always best to consult a medical professional when it comes to treating a contagious illness like the flu. We understand that it’s never convenient to contract the flu as an employee, parent, student or child. With our commitment to prompt quality care, we’ll discuss your symptoms and personalized treatment plans, call in prescriptions, provide recommendations and send you home so you can start resting ASAP. Follow treatment instructions and continue to monitor your symptoms. Remember to wash your hands, sanitize your home and avoid in-person interactions, especially with high-risk individuals.
If your flu test is negative but you have all the symptoms, our team will help you find an accurate diagnosis with appropriate treatment, so you can get back to feeling your best.
Visit AFC Urgent Care today for the 2022-2023 flu shot. Stay happy and healthy as you protect yourself and your community this flu season.