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WEB EXCLUSIVE With the threat of both the flu and the coronavirus looming this season, it’s more important than ever to get a flu shot. While the two diseases are completely different and getting the flu shot hasn’t been proven to reduce your risk of getting coronavirus, health experts say that people coming down the flu—on top of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic—could overburden the health care system, something that was already a problem when case numbers started peaking back in early spring.
In addition to relieving the country’s hospitals, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says that “you really should get a flu shot” every year. Studies by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) showed that during the 2018-2019 flu season, 49% of the U.S. population got the flu vaccine and prevented an estimated 44 million cases of the flu and 3,500 deaths.
Besides not contracting the flu, the CDC lists the following benefits of getting the flu vaccine on their website:
- The flu vaccine can reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization for children, working age adults and older adults.
- Flu vaccinations are an important preventive tool for people with chronic health conditions.
- Flu vaccination helps protect women during and after pregnancy.
- The flu vaccine has been shown in several studies to reduce severity of illness in people who get vaccinated but still get sick.
- Getting vaccinated yourself may also protect people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness.
When Should You Get the Flu Vaccine?
Dr. Fauci recommends getting the flu shot towards the middle or end of October, saying that if you get it in September, the immunity might wear off come February or March. Flu season typically peaks between December and February, according to the CDC.
How Do Flu Vaccines Work?
Two weeks after getting the flu vaccine, antibodies begin to develop in the body, providing protection against infection with the viruses that are also used to make the vaccine itself. The CDC recommends getting the vaccine each year because a person’s immune protection from vaccination declines over time and because the flu virus changes every year, meaning the vaccine is updated as well. A common misconception is that the flu vaccine will cause flu illness, when in reality any symptoms you may feel after getting the flu shot are the body’s normal immune response to the inactivated virus in the vaccine.
Where Can You Get the Flu Shot Locally?
Harris Teeter recently announced a flu shot program with Kroger Health to offer flu shots at all of Harris Teeter’s more than 200 pharmacies.
When you get a flu shot at Raleigh’s new Publix, they’ll give you a free $10 gift card to the grocery store.
The following Wake County Human Services locations are offering the flu vaccine by appointment only for $30:
- Public Health Center in Raleigh: 919-250-3900
- Northern Regional Center in Wake Forest: 919-562-6300
- Eastern Regional Center in Zebulon: 919-404-3900
- Southern Regional Center in Fuquay Varina: 919-557-2501
- Millbrook Human Services Center in Raleigh: 919-431-4000
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