The start of fall marks the start of another type of season: influenza. There are several ways you can prevent catching the virus this fall, with the most effective being by getting an annual flu vaccination from AFC Urgent Care Norwalk. Our urgent care center is open seven days a week and always welcomes walk-in patients, making getting your flu shot a quick and easy process instead of having to stop your day in its tracks for an appointment.
Why should I get a flu shot?
The flu shot is the most effective way to prevent catching the flu each year. By getting the flu shot, your body will be prompted to begin forming antibodies against the current strains of the influenza virus. The antibodies will prevent you from getting sick from the covered strains of the influenza virus for the duration of the current flu season.
When should I get the flu shot?
You should get the flu vaccination early in the fall to prevent falling ill for the duration of the season. The recommended time frame for getting your flu shot is between September and the end of October. Because the vaccine takes about two weeks to take effect, getting it during this time frame allows your body time to adjust before the virus starts spreading through your home, office or community.
Who is at higher risk for complications from the flu?
Patients who are considered to be high-risk for complications from the influenza virus should consult with their physician about when to get their flu shot. It is generally recommended to get your flu shot early in order to make sure your body has adequate time to produce antibodies. Patients who are considered to be higher risk for the flu include:
- Older patients over the age of 60
- Young children
- Pregnant women
- Immunocompromised patients
- Patients who have chronic health conditions including cancer, asthma, diabetes and heart or lung disease
If you fall into these groups and begin to experience symptoms including shortness of breath, chest tightness or pain, dizziness or more severe symptoms of any chronic health conditions you have, visit your local emergency room immediately for assessment.
Why does the flu shot need to be updated each year?
The flu shot is only designed to provide protection against the virus for about six months, or the duration of one flu season. This is because of the fast rate that the flu virus mutates and evolves. While the flu shot can provide immunity against several strains of the virus, the likelihood of the same exact strain being one of the main concerns of the following flu season are slim. By getting a flu shot each fall, you are able to maintain continued immunity during influenza season.
How can I prevent catching the flu without getting the flu shot?
Some patients are unable to get the flu shot due to egg allergies or previous reactions to the vaccine. If you are unable to get the flu shot, take these steps to prevent falling ill and catching the virus:
- Make sure you are washing your hands throughout the day with warm, running water and antibacterial soap. You should be scrubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds, concentrating on the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails to kill germs that may be lingering from surfaces you were handling earlier in the day.
- If soap or water are unavailable, disinfect your hands with hand sanitizer that is made of at least 60% alcohol. This will kill germs that are on the surface, but cannot be used as an alternative to washing your hands. Hand sanitizer will not be able to remove buildup from dirt or grime.
- Always cover your nose and mouth with your elbow or a tissue to contain germs when coughing or sneezing. Dispose of used tissues immediately.
- Avoid large crowds of people, especially if you are near someone displaying symptoms of illness. Wear a mask or protective face covering in public areas to avoid germs.
Walk-In Flu Shots & Influenza Treatment in Norwalk, CT
If you are interested in getting your flu shot this fall, visit AFC Urgent Care Norwalk today. Our center is open seven days a week, and walk-in patients are always welcome. Most major insurance plans cover the flu shot, and low copays are available for self-paying patients. For more information about the flu shot, please call 203-845-9100.