Influenza, or the flu, is a contagious viral illness that infects the nose, throat and lungs. It can be mild to severe, and even lead to hospitalization or death.
As we head into flu season the best way to protect yourself and your family is to get the annual flu vaccine—available in all of our offices now.
Here are five things you need to know.
- The flu vaccine is safe
Despite what you may have heard, you cannot get the flu from the flu vaccine. That is because the vaccine does not contain any live flu virus. A side effect you may experience is a temporarily sore, red arm at the injection site.
- It is also effective
While the flu vaccine does not completely protect you against the flu, it is up to 80% effective, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And if you get the vaccine but still contract influenza, your risk of having a serious flu illness drops to below 1%. This means you are much less likely to miss work or be hospitalized.
- But it doesn't work immediately
It takes about two weeks for the flu vaccine to offer protection. And once you are protected, you can still get sick from other germs or viruses that may cause similar symptoms.
- The flu is different from the common cold
While both typically cause a fever, a sore throat and fatigue, the flu also causes muscle and body aches, and typically lasts much longer.
- Almost everyone can get the same vaccine
Every UCLA Health patient between 6 months and 64 years old can get the same single dose vaccine. For patients 65 and older, a high-dose vaccine is recommended. Reach out to your physician with any questions.
This content ran in the Fall 2018 issue of The Checkup, a UCLA Health community newsletter on how to live your healthiest life.