During the annual flu season, mostly during the fall and winter months, millions of Americans fall ill, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized, and tens of thousands die from health issues tied to influenza.
October is here and that means it’s time for getting your flu shot  and making sure your kids do the same, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“Vaccination provides important protection from influenza illness and its potential complications,” the CDC says. During the six influenza seasons from 2010–11 through 2015–16, influenza vaccination prevented an estimated 1.6 to 6.7 million illnesses, 790,000 to 3.1 million outpatient medical visits, 39,000 to 87,000 hospitalizations, and 3,000 to 10,000 respiratory and circulatory deaths each season in the U.S., the agency states.
The 2017-2018 flu season was the most severe in a decade. While only moderate in severity, the 2018-2019 season was record-breaking in duration, with flu activity remaining elevated for 21 weeks.
“The flu shot remains the best way to prevent getting the flu,” says Melissa Franco, D.O. , a family medicine physician with Baptist Health Primary Care. “Flu season can go well into the spring, and it’s never too late to get vaccinated.”
In the United States, the typical flu season runs from October through May, usually peaking in February.
Here are the top four flu shot myths and why they’re wrong, according to the CDC:
Myth 1. Healthy people don’t need a flu vaccine.
Influenza (flu) is a contagious disease which can lead to serious illness, including pneumonia. Even healthy people can get sick enough to miss work or school for a significant amount of time or even be hospitalized. An annual flu vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older. Pregnant women, young children, older people, and people with certain chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes and heart disease are at increased risk of serious flu-related complications, so getting a yearly flu vaccine is especially important for them.
Myth 2: The flu vaccine may not be safe.
The flu vaccine is safe. Hundreds of millions of Americans have safely received flu vaccines over the past 50 years, and there has been extensive research supporting the safety of seasonal flu vaccines. Each year, CDC works closely with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other partners to ensure the highest safety standards for flu vaccines.
Myth 3: The flu vaccine may cause serious side effects.
The most common side effects of flu vaccines are mild. But the flu vaccine cannot cause flu illness. Common side effects from the flu shot include soreness, redness, and/or swelling from the shot, headache, fever, muscle aches, and nausea. These side effects are NOT the flu. If experienced at all, these effects are usually mild and last only 1-2 days.
Myth 4: Even if I get sick, won’t I recover quickly?
Not necessarily. Influenza can be serious and anyone can become sick with flu and experience serious complications, including active and healthy kids, teens and adults. Even if you bounce back quickly, however, others around you might not be so lucky. You could spread your illness to someone who is more vulnerable to flu. Some people can be infected with the flu virus, but have no symptoms. During this time, you can still spread the virus to others. Don’t be the one spreading flu to those you care about.
Free Flu Shots from Baptist Health
Baptist Health is offering free flu shots at four locations throughout South Florida. No appointments necessary. No prescription required. No wait. Just walk in, get the shot and walk out the door. :
- Baptist Health Urgent Care Express in Key Biscayne ( 240 Crandon Blvd Suite 110, Key Biscayne)
- Baptist Health Urgent Care Express in Country Walk (Corsica Square shopping center, 15721 SW 152nd St, Miami)
- Baptist Health Urgent Care Express in Coral Springs (Shoppes at Heron Lakes, 5673 Coral Ridge Dr, Coral Springs)
Palm Beach County:
- Bethesda Urgent Care in Wellington (Wellington Green Mall, 10520 Forest Hill Blvd, Wellington)
You can get directions and hours for each location at BaptistHealth.net/UrgentCare .