With the holidays just weeks away, the last thing you need is a run-in with the flu. Flu season in Missouri runs from October to March, and sometimes stretches into May. Dr. Randall Williams, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Director, predicts a rough go this year, similar to 2017, which saw 134,000 flu cases and 279 flu-related deaths.

The best way to protect yourself, your family and the general public is to get a flu shot. It’s recommended for everyone ages 6 months old and older, unless they have a medical reason to not receive it.

 Flu Shot Facts

  1. When you have the flu, you can spread it to others even if you don’t feel sick.
  2. The flu vaccine doesn’t cause the flu because the viruses in the vaccine are dead.
  3. Flu vaccines are safe. Serious side effects are very rare. The most common side effect is mild arm soreness from the shot.
  4. The flu shot isn’t just about protecting your health. Getting vaccinated also protects the people you love, like your kids and grandma.

Flu Vaccine and Egg Allergy

If you have an egg allergy, even a severe one, you can safely get any type of flu shot. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines recommend getting your shot from a healthcare provider with experience in recognizing and treating allergic reactions. An egg-free vaccine is another option.

If you have questions about egg allergy and flu vaccines, talk with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Additional Ways to Avoid the Flu

After getting your flu shot, take extra steps to stop the spread of germs.

  1. Wash your hands often. Use soap and water if they’re handy. If not, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  2. Cover your cough. Cover your sneezes, too. Use a tissue, or cough/sneeze into your elbow, not your hands.
  3. Stay home when you’re sick. It’s not always easy to do, but work and school can wait if staying home will help prevent spreading germs. 

The Flu Versus the Stomach Flu

Yes, it’s possible to get the flu even if you’ve had a flu shot. That’s not a reason to skip out. The flu shot reduces your odds of getting sick. At the very least, it can lessen the severity and duration if you do.

The flu is a respiratory illness, so you feel it in your nose, throat and lungs. Signs and symptoms include:

  • Coughing
  • Congestion
  • Fever
  • Muscle aches

Sometimes, the flu gets lumped in with the stomach flu. Truth be told, there’s no such things as the stomach flu. The correct name for the ever-unpleasant stomach bug is gastroenteritis, and it’s not caused by influenza viruses. It’s an infection caused by several viruses, such as rotaviruses and noroviruses. Gastroenteritis attacks your intestines. Signs and symptoms include:

  • Body aches
  • Chills
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Vomiting

 The Sooner, the Better

It takes about two weeks for the vaccine to kick in, so now’s the time to act. Get vaccinated at one of our Meritas Health Express locations or visit your primary care doctor so you’re ready when flu season strikes.

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