On the Fence about the Flu Shot? Read Our FAQ.

Each fall, doctors and public health officials across the country urge virtually every American to get a flu shot. But, despite their best efforts, only about 50% will heed their advice. 

This begs the question: what’s the deal with our low vaccination rates?

A handful of myths and misconceptions about the flu shot may be partly to blame.

Because it’s super-duper important to get vaccinated this year, we wanted answer all of your flu shot questions and ease any concerns you may have.

We sat down with Thad Mick, ZOOM+Care’s Vice President of Pharmaceutical Programs, to talk flu shot myths, common vaccination concerns, the importance of getting the shot this year, and more.

Thad Mick, Vice President of Pharmaceutical Programs at ZOOM+Care.

Hi Thad! Thanks for Talking with us Today.

With COVID-19 still circulating, this flu season is a little different. When would you recommend people get their flu shots this year?

Today!

There is no better time to protect yourself, your family, and your community from flu than right now. The CDC, and the broader medical community, recommend receiving your flu vaccine in the early fall before the flu virus begins circulating broadly. It takes about two weeks to develop a full immune response after the vaccine, so it is better to get protected now rather than wait.

We’ve heard that it’s Extra important to get a flu shot this year. Can you tell us why?

With COVID-19 infection rates on the rise, there have been numerous discussions within the medical community about the potential for a “twindemic.” While a vaccine for COVID-19 is not available today, we do have a safe and effective vaccine to prevent influenza.  

We must use the tools we have available to protect our friends and family and reduce the use of our critical healthcare systems. Flu vaccines are an important tool to limit the amount of respiratory illness circulating in our community. When we receive a flu vaccine, we do our part to protect our communities and ensure we have the much-needed space available in our hospitals and care centers to support those who need it most.  

Is there any concern about the availability of vaccines this year?

Vaccine manufacturers have committed to supplying almost 200 million doses of flu vaccines this season. While there were some early reports of isolated flu vaccine shortages, most communities now have adequate vaccine supplies.   

Do you think the COVID-19 pandemic has increased awareness about flu prevention and general preventative public health measures?

The pandemic has most definitely created an environment of individual social responsibility and awareness around our actions and roles in protecting our community. Each of us recognizes, more than ever, how we can help maintain a safe and protected space with vigilant hand hygiene, social distancing, face coverings, and flu vaccinations.

With each of us doing our part, we can collectively reduce the impact of this pandemic.

When it feels like so much is out of our control these days, it is important to take hold of those areas in our life that we can influence, especially when it comes to protecting our health—and that of our friends and family. “

Thad Mick, Vice President of Pharmaceutical Programs

can the flu shot put you at higher risk for contracting COVID-19? 

There is a ton of misinformation surfacing on social media platforms these days. The truth is that there has not been a single study to date that has demonstrated any additional risk of contracting COVID-19 following a flu vaccine.  

The real concern is a potential co-infection with influenza and SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the COVID-19. Should you become infected with influenza, a compromised immune system may allow CoV-2 to have a more significant impact on your health, leading to more severe symptoms or longer recovery time.

A lot of people want to avoid the doctor’s office right now due to COVID-19. What is ZOOM+Care to make getting a flu shot safe? 

We have always maintained clean, safe, uncrowded clinics that provide on-demand, quality care efficiently. This flu season, we have implemented even more rigorous standards to clean our clinics, ensure our staff is properly attired in PPE to protect them and you, eliminate gathering in our reception area and provide the fastest flu vaccine visit available.

Besides safety, what are some other reasons to get the flu shot at ZOOM+Care? 

We have worked hard to develop a flu vaccination destination that eliminates each of the barriers that exist today in most healthcare facilities.  

We have created a system that allows for on-demand, same-day scheduling for your flu vaccine. No need to plan days or weeks ahead to reserve limited space/time for a flu shot. 

With your appointment booked, all you need to do is show up on time to our crowd-less reception area, complete a quick health survey, and receive your vaccine in a clean private room.  

You will be in and out of your ZOOM+Care flu shot visit in less than five minutes. 

Each year I conduct a secret shopper exercise to test our systems and look for opportunities for improvement. This year I went online at 11:30, booked an appointment during my lunch hour at 12:15, walked into the clinic at 12:14, and left the clinic at 12:18 after getting my shot. The entire experience was less than five minutes.

Are there side effects of the flu vaccine? How common are these side effects? 

Some people report having mild reactions to the flu shot. The most common side effects from flu shots include soreness, redness, tenderness or swelling at the site of the shot, low-grade fever or headache, and mild muscle aches. 

For those who experience these side effects, they usually begin soon after the shot and only last 1-2 days.

How long does the flu vaccine last?

 It takes about two weeks to develop a full immune response after the vaccine. Immunity duration can vary. For most people, it lasts for six to eight months, although it may last longer for some. 

How effective is this year’s vaccine? 

The effectiveness of the flu vaccine varies from year to year, often hovering between 40%-60%. Two primary factors impact the vaccine’s effectiveness: the viral match between the vaccine and the circulating viral strain(s) and the demographics and health status of those vaccinated. 

Even in years when the vaccine’s effectiveness falls to the lower side of this range, benefits are realized when large portions of the population are vaccinated. These include fewer flu-related deaths, reduced severity of symptoms by those who are vaccinated and get sick, and a decline in the number of hospitalizations from the flu.

Say someone never gets the flu. Why should they bother to get a flu shot?

Just because you have not been infected with influenza in the past, don’t fool yourself into thinking you are immune to the flu virus or any other. The odds are that you have just been lucky enough to avoid exposure to some of the more virulent strains of the virus that have circulated in the past. The CDC, and every reputable healthcare expert, recommends that everyone six months of age and older receive a flu vaccine this year.  

Flu vaccines have been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization, and death. Getting a flu vaccine this fall will be more important than ever—not only to reduce your risk from flu but also to help protect those around you and conserve potentially scarce health care resources. It is one of the best things we can do to protect our communities and keep hospital beds free for those who need them during this pandemic.    

Anything else you’d like to add? 

When it feels like so much is out of our control these days, it is important to take hold of those areas in our life that we can influence, especially when it comes to protecting our health—and that of our friends and family.  

With same-day appointments, at a clean, safe, uncrowded clinic that require less than five minutes, at low to no out of pocket cost, there is absolutely no reason to avoid the flu shot; especially this year.

Little pinch. Big payoff. For your best shot at a flu-free fall and winter, get vaccinated at any of our neighborhood clinics today.

6 Flu Shot Myths, Busted

It’s nearly fall, which means two things: pumpkin spice lattes (yay?) and flu season (boo!). While the CDC recommends that everyone six months and older get the flu shot, less than half of Americans will heed this advice. In fact, during the 2018-2019 flu season, a mere 45% of adults were vaccinated. 

The flu shot is by far the best way to protect against this potentially deadly infection—so why do so many people doubt its safety and efficacy? The answer to that question lies in myth and misinformation. Many of the rumored side effects (like that the shot can give you the flu) are simply untrue. 

We’d like to clear the air about this much-maligned vaccine, but—before we bust some myths—we want to make our stance on vaccines clear. While ZOOM+Care strongly advocates for vaccination, we believe in listening to patients’ perspectives first and foremost. We want to be a non-judgmental source of knowledge, offering evidence-based information about immunizations. 

If you have concerns about the safety and efficacy of the flu shot, here are six common myths—and facts to debunk them. 

Myth #1: The Flu Shot Gives You the Flu 

This is perhaps the most pervasive myth about the flu shot, and it endures for a reason: many people report feeling unwell after receiving the vaccine. 

Because the flu shot is made from dead viruses, it cannot (repeat, cannot) give you the flu. However, it can trigger an immune response from your body—which may cause you to experience mild, flu-like symptoms. (I.e., achy muscles, soreness, redness at the injection site, or a low-grade fever.) 

It’s important to note: while irritation around the injection site is common, only 1 to 2 percent of people who get the flu shot will have fever as a side effect. 

Myth #2: The Flu Shot Doesn’t Work 

The effectiveness of flu shots indeed varies from season to season, it’s true. 

Like any viral infection, the flu rapidly mutates and creates new strains every year—and the vaccine can’t protect you from all of them. However, that doesn’t mean the flu shot doesn’t work. In the 2017-2018 flu season, the vaccine reduced the risk of illness by around 47%, according to the CDC. 

The flu shot’s effectiveness varies by population, too. For instance, the vaccine tends to be less effective at protecting the elderly. However, even though elderly people who are immunized may still get sick, they’ll likely get less sick. For many older folks, the flu vaccine can be the difference between a trip to the doctor and a trip to the hospital.

Myth #3: Healthy People Don’t Need the Flu Shot 

We hate to break it to you, but sometimes, even the strongest immune system falls victim to the flu. No one (except maybe Superman) is invulnerable to the virus—and getting vaccinated is always your best bet at staying protected. 

Even if you never, ever get the flu, it’s still a good idea to get a flu shot—and doing so could save lives. While you may not develop flu symptoms yourself, you can still carry the virus and pass it on to those more vulnerable. Almost anywhere you go, you can come in contact with a cancer patient on chemotherapy, a newborn infant, or someone with asthma, diabetes, or heart disease. All are especially at risk of serious complications (or even death) from the flu.

Myth #4: You Don’t Need the Flu Shot Every Year 

The bad news? Even if you got a flu shot last year, you’ll need it again this year. That’s because the virus rapidly mutates, rendering the previous year’s vaccine partially or completely useless. 

The good news is, scientists and researchers are constantly updating the vaccination so it’s effective against the strains they predict will be most common during flu season.

Myth #5: Pregnant Women Shouldn’t Get the Flu Vaccine

When you’re pregnant, you want to do everything you can to ensure your baby is healthy. Most expectant mothers are very careful about what they put into their bodies, and the flu shot is no exception.

As the busy flu season approaches, we have good news for pregnant women: not only is it safe for them to get the flu shot, but it’s especially beneficial for them to do so. When you’re expecting, your immune system is taxed. That means you’re more likely to get sick (and really sick), putting you at higher risk for flu-related complications. The flu can be a deadly disease for pregnant women, and the vaccine is your best bet at preventing it. 

Myth #6: The Vaccine is Poisonous

We’ll be real: some of the ingredients in the flu vaccine sound a little suspect. (Formaldehyde? Aluminum salts?) However, the myth that the flu shot is “poisonous” is far more dangerous than any of its additives. 

While the vaccine does contain small traces of ingredients that would be poisonous in large doses, research overwhelmingly shows that these additives are safe in the trace amounts contained in flu shots. All the ingredients are essential in either making the vaccine, triggering the body to develop immunity, or in ensuring that the final product is safe and effective. 

One thing is for certain: when it comes to the flu vaccine, the rewards far outweigh the risks. For your best shot at a flu-free winter, get vaccinated at any of our neighborhood clinics.

Australia Is Having a Terrible Flu Season. Here’s Why It Matters.  

Bad news from Down Under: The 2019 flu season sucked. Big time. According to numbers from the Australian government, there were over 250,000 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza by the end of September, making it their worst flu season on record. 

Until this year, 2017 held the title for Australia’s “worst flu season ever,” with over 229,000 confirmed cases of influenza reported by the end of October. 

To make matters worse, the Aussie flu season started early and lasted longer than usual, resulting in a record number of summer cases. Oh, and it’s still going.

A bad omen for the U.S.

You may be wondering, “How is this bad news for me?” (Aside from the fact that you’re a kind, caring person who’s invested in the well-being of others, of course.) 

The answer: The flu season in the Southern Hemisphere can be an indication of what’s in store for us Northern Hemisphere folks. A bad outbreak down under can spell trouble for us as we head into our winter. 

“Australia’s flu season is not an exact predictor, but our season tends to look a lot like it,” says Thad Mick, our VP of Pharmaceutical Programs & Diagnostic Services. “Based on the Australian data, I would expect that it’s going to be another lousy flu year in the US.”

That said, a lot can change: The flu virus can mutate, so some strains might pop up in the Northern Hemisphere that didn’t occur in the south. The flu vaccine is also slightly different in each hemisphere—so ours may be more or less effective than it was in Australia.

Give flu season your best shot.

Even if our flu season winds up looking different than Australia’s, the vaccine is still your best shot at avoiding the (potentially deadly!) infection. And while it might not guarantee 100% protection, it does lower your chances of developing severe flu-related issues, like pneumonia. 

For maximum protection, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting vaccinated for the flu by the end of October.

Schedule a five-minute flu shot.