A message from our friends at UCLA Health
Influenza causes more than 30,000 deaths annually in the United States, prompting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to recommend that everyone age 6 months or older get the flu vaccine each year.
“Influenza is a very serious illness that causes a lot of suffering, hospitalization and unnecessary deaths, particularly among the very old, the very young and those with chronic health conditions or compromised immune systems,” says Dr. Evelyn Curls, an internal medicine specialist at UCLA Health’s Redondo Beach practice. “The flu shot is a very simple – and safe – way to prevent the spread of this dangerous illness.”
Because the influenza virus arrives in different strains each year, you need a flu shot annually, she explains, adding that fall is the ideal time to obtain the vaccination. It takes about two weeks for your immune system to develop antibodies against the predicted strain.
Many people mistakenly believe that you can get the flu or become ill from the vaccine. “You cannot get the flu from a flu shot because the vaccine is created from inactivated virus,” explains Dr. Jennifer Logan, a family medicine physician at the UCLA-Redondo Beach office. “In rare cases, the vaccine can cause a minor immune response for the first 24 to 48 hours, including a low-grade fever or muscle pain.”
That minor discomfort is nothing compared to the symptoms of full-on flu, Dr. Logan adds, and well worth the benefits of getting a flu shot.
So, who should get a flu shot? The answer is virtually everyone, per the CDC recommendations.
“People think flu shots are just for the elderly, infants and those with chronic health conditions, but healthy young and middle-aged adults also should get vaccinated,” says Dr. Curls.
“Everyone is at risk of developing the flu,” adds Dr. Logan. “Beyond protecting themselves with flu shots, they have a responsibility to protect those around them.”
Drs. Evelyn Curls and Jennifer Logan are internal medicine and family medicine specialists at the UCLA Health-Redondo Beach office. For more information, visit www.uclahealth.org/RedondoBeach or call (310) 937-8555.