As the weather starts to turn cooler and the leaves are starting to change colours, that means flu season is just around the corner. And of course that means that you should get your flu shot now so that you can avoid getting sick during the holidays. Which will then turn into getting everyone else you know sick for the holidays. And really, that’s not a gift that is going to make your popular with friends and family this holiday season!
There are so many places in the US where you can get really affordable flu shots now, from your local pharmacy and of course, your doctor. But did you know that you can also get your flu vaccine at Costco? You can also get several other types of vaccinations at the Costco pharmacy too. The Costco pharmacists have been immunization certified so they can administer vaccines for flu, pneumonia, shingles/Zostavax, and tdap (whooping cough). You don’t need to make an appointment or even plan ahead, just come to the store during regular pharmacy hours Monday through Saturday because walk-ins are welcome. So, for less than $15.00 you can get your flu shot and do your regular Costco shopping (which will almost definitely cost more than $15.00). At the Costco US Flu Shot webpage, they state that they are administering trivalent vaccinations this year. That means that their flu vaccine protects against three strains of flu: two influenza A viruses (an H1N1 and an H3N2) and an influenza B virus.
I have a chronic illness and I’m on some medication that isn’t super friendly to my immune system so I always get a flu shot and Dave always gets one since he’s in a household with a sickie (aka someone at high risk of complications from the flu). I know not everyone likes to or doesn’t think they are necessary, however, if you’ve had the flu recently, you know it isn’t something that is all that great to have and can take quite a while to get to feeling normal again. I got the flu last year before I had the chance to get my flu vaccination and definitely don’t want a repeat performance. This year it was like I was waiting in line for a new iPhone or concert tickets, just so I could get in there and get my vaccination early. Most of the time influenza activity peaks in January or later, though outbreaks can occur as early as October. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body that protect against the influenza virus infection, therefore, it is best that you get vaccinated early so you are protected before flue begins spreading. According to the government’s Flu website, getting a vaccine can mean that you are about 60% less likely to need treatment for the flu.
According to the CDC, in the United States, it is estimated that on average 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from seasonal flu-related complications each year. Over a period of 30 years, between 1976 and 2006, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people. So, even in good years, when the flu wasn’t as severe, 3,000 people still died. For the few minutes it takes to get a flu shot, I think it is worth it not to be in the several thousand that may die from flu complications.
If you fall into any of the following groups, you should definitely make sure to get a flu shot:
- all children aged 6 through 59 months;
- all persons aged 50 years and older;
- adults and children who have chronic pulmonary (including asthma) or cardiovascular (except isolated hypertension), renal, hepatic, neurologic, hematologic, or metabolic disorders (including diabetes mellitus);
- persons who have immunosuppression (including immunosuppression caused by medications or by HIV infection);
- women who are or will be pregnant during the influenza season;
- children and adolescents (aged 6 months through 18 years) who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy and who might be at risk for experiencing Reye’s syndrome after influenza virus infection;
- residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities;
- American Indians/Alaska Natives; and
- persons who are morbidly obese (body mass index of 40 or greater).
- health-care personnel;
- household contacts (including children) and caregivers of children aged 59 months and older (i.e., aged younger than 5 years) and adults aged 50 years and older, with particular emphasis on vaccinating contacts of children aged younger than 6 months; and
- household contacts (including children) and caregivers of persons with medical conditions that put them at high risk for severe complications from influenza.
Side effects or complications from the flu shot are very rare, but can happen. If you have an egg allergy, you should talk to your doctor about what options you have for getting a flu vaccination. And you’re definitely going to have to go see your doctor to get a vaccine because you need to be in a setting where any severe allergic reaction can be dealt with swiftly. If you have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination, you should not receive a vaccination at all. And children younger than 6 months of age should not be vaccinated. Also, anyone that is moderately or severely ill with or without fever should usually wait until they recover before getting flu vaccine.
So, if you don’t fall into any of those groups that shouldn’t be getting a flu shot this year, make sure you get one now that they are available. Since you can save time and hassle by getting one when you are doing your regular Costco shopping, you’ve got no excuse! Unfortunately this flu vaccination program seems to only be available at Costco locations in the US, but you should check your local Costco for details about when they are doing an in-store vaccination drive. But wherever you live, get your flu shot!
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