Thanks to public health measures over the past few years, incidences of flu have been low. However, experts are concerned we may not be that lucky this season since more people are out and about, back in school, and not wearing masks as much. If the U.S. trends like the Southern hemisphere (historically, a seasonal harbinger for the U.S.), we may be in for a severe flu season. Australia in nearing the end of its worst flu season in five years.
There is a possibility we may be entering a flu season with a higher level of susceptibility than usual, according to Matt Browning, MD, Chief Medical Officer for Urgent Team Family of Urgent Care & Walk-in Centers. “With mask mandates and social distancing now less prevalent, there still is the possibility of contracting both flu and COVID-19,” Browning explained.
“Also, in a normal season when a person recovers from a seasonal influenza infection, they retain some level of immunity that protects them in the future for a period of time,” Browning explained. “Because of the low flu virus activity during the past few years, adult immunity (especially among those who were not vaccinated last season), will now depend on exposure to viruses two or more seasons earlier.”
As healthcare providers prepare to see more flu cases this season, the Urgent Team Family of Urgent Care & Walk-in Centers are ready with the 2022-2023 flu vaccine for the influenza A strains (H3N2 and H1N1), and influenza B strains (Victoria and Yamagata).
- Fluzone Standard Dose Quadrivalent: For ages 6 months and older. (First-time flu shot patients up to age 9 may require two separate doses one month apart.)
- Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent: For ages 65 and older.
“Although a flu vaccination is not a guarantee you won’t get flu, the vaccine has been shown to reduce the severity if you do catch flu, thus reducing the risk of hospitalization and even death,” Browning explained. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), September and October are the best times to get vaccinated to obtain immunity throughout flu season. “Also important to remember is that it takes two weeks after your shot to achieve full benefit.”
The CDC’s top reasons everyone ages 6 months and older should get a flu shot:
- Being vaccinated decreases your chances of getting flu by more than half.
- Even if you do catch the flu, a vaccination can make symptoms milder.
- Previous years’ flu shots do not count. The virus from previous years may not be the same as this year’s vaccination.
- By being vaccinated, you will slow the spread of flu virus to those around you.
The vaccination is covered by most insurance plans at no cost to the patient. Also, flu vaccines are generally free for anyone with Medicare Part B, employer health insurance or other insurance that conforms to the Affordable Care Act, as well as for many Medicaid beneficiaries. For patients without these forms of insurance, the cost is $30 for the Fluzone Standard Dose Quadrivalent and $75 for the Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent. It’s important to know that because flu and COVID-19 share many of the same symptoms, testing for both illnesses may be necessary, depending on symptoms.
Flu shots are available on a walk-in basis, seven days a week, at most of our urgent care centers. For more information about flu or to find a center near you, visit UrgentTeam.com.