The Flu Shot: Still Your Best Bet
If the flu knocked you out during the holidays in the past, you weren’t alone. The 2016 flu season peaked in the final week of December, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
To avoid being one of the many Michiganders who come down with the flu this winter, get a flu shot. It’s still your best defense against the virus, according to the CDC. If you still aren’t sold, the following answers can help clear up your confusion.
Q: I got the flu shot last year but still got sick. So why get it this year?
A: The flu hit hard last year, despite many people getting a flu shot. That’s because an annual flu shot doesn’t guarantee you’ll avoid the flu, but it does lower your risk and remains your best defense.
Q: Why isn’t the flu shot foolproof?
A: Months before flu season begins, health professionals do research to determine the most likely flu strains and match the identified viruses in the creation of the vaccine. Even if they’re successful, flu viruses can change as the months go by. People can still get sick with a strain of the flu slightly different from the one in the vaccine. While a flu shot won’t make you immune to all flu strains, you can still benefit from getting it. The flu vaccine has been proven to reduce flu-related doctor visits caused by 50% to 60% when the vaccine viruses are the ones spreading within the community, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And getting the shot before you’re infected can make your symptoms milder if you do get sick.
Q: I’m a healthy person, so can’t I just risk it?
A: Remember, the flu shot isn’t just for you. It protects your friends and family members who are more vulnerable, such as older adults and young children. If you get a mild case of the flu, you’re less likely to pass the virus to others if you had a flu shot, according to the CDC. If you have concerns about getting a flu shot, talk to your doctor.
Q: Where can I get the flu shot?
A: If you’re a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan or Blue Care Network member, visit a participating pharmacy with your member ID card to get your flu shot today. While most pharmacies will accept your coverage, be sure to ask before you get your vaccine. Then, write down the date and let your doctor know at your next appointment so he or she can keep your immunization chart up to date — and you healthy.
You can also schedule an appointment with your primary doctor to get one. Your office visit copayment may apply.
Q: For Blue Cross members without BCBSM pharmacy coverage: Visit bcbsm.com/preventflu to see a list of immunizing pharmacies that provide vaccines under your medical coverage.
For vaccine schedules, click on Immunization Reminder under the More tab at Facebook.com/MiBCN or see Guidelines to Good Health in the recent edition of Good Health at bcbsm.com.
Photo credit: Tony Alter