Flu Vaccine: A Holiday Gift for the Whole Family

Story Number: NNS171206-08Release Date: 12/6/2017 9:37:00 AM
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By Ensign Jennifer Underhill, Medical Student, and Lieutenant Commander Nolen Roberson, Family Medicine Physician, Naval Hospital Jacksonville Public Affairs

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- During the holiday season, it's easy to put your own health on the back burner. But the flu shot should be an easy check-off on your holiday shopping list. It helps your body fight off infection from the flu virus, keeping you and your family happy and healthy all season long.

The typical flu season runs from October to February or later, so get vaccinated early, to protect yourself all season long. This is important because it takes about two weeks after getting flu vaccine for your body to develop the antibodies that help your immune system recognize and fight off the flu virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone six months and older receive the flu vaccine each year. Flu vaccination is especially important for people at higher risk of developing complications from flu infection, such as children age five and younger; pregnant women; and those with medical conditions such as asthma, chronic lung disease, and heart disease. By getting flu vaccine, we can help protect those who are most at risk by preventing the spread of flu to them.

Each year around March, infectious disease experts at CDC determine the most probable strains of the flu to appear in the upcoming flu season, and build a vaccine to best protect the public for the next year.

CDC recommends you get flu vaccine each year, because your body's response to the flu declines over time, so the annual vaccine is like a refresher course for your immune system on how to recognize and fight the flu. Also, the virus constantly changes, so the flu vaccine seeks to match the strain of virus for that year. Even when the vaccine doesn't exactly match that year's virus, it can still provide partial protection, shortening the duration and severity of the illness and preventing complications.

The viruses in the flu vaccine are killed, so they can't cause a case of the flu. The most common symptoms from the flu vaccine are mild, such as soreness at the shot site, aches, or a low-grade fever. In very rare cases, there can be more serious reactions, and these are closely monitored and tracked by the CDC to help prevent future adverse reactions and improve the safety of all vaccines.

Stop by our hospital's Immunization Clinic to receive your flu shot Monday - Wednesday and Friday, 7:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. or Thursday, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Active duty patients should walk-in to Branch Health Clinic Jacksonville's Immunizations Clinic, Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 3 p.m.

If you have questions about the annual flu shot, or vaccinations in general, please talk to your primary care manager, call Immunizations Clinic at 904-542-7810, or visit CDC's website at www.cdc.gov/flu.

For more information, visit www.navy.mil, www.facebook.com/usnavy, or www.twitter.com/usnavy.

For more news from Naval Hospital Jacksonville, visit www.navy.mil/local/nhjax/.

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