Frequently asked questions about vaccines

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    Why is the flu vaccine essential this year?

    During the pandemic, it is more important than ever to get the flu shot. Protect yourself, your family, and your community from flu. Here are three important reasons why:

    • To reduce the overall burden of respiratory illnesses
    • To protect vulnerable populations at risk for severe illness
    • To reduce the burden on the healthcare system and other critical infrastructures
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    If COVID-19 is spreading in my community, should I get the flu vaccination?

    Yes. Getting the flu vaccine is more important than ever. Just like wearing a mask, getting a flu shot is an easy and safe action we can take to keep ourselves and others healthy during the pandemic. It is also important because getting the vaccine will protect against flu and help save limited medical resources for COVID-19 patients. It is likely that both COVID-19 and flu will be circulating this fall and winter. Getting the flu vaccination means there will be one less disease you and your doctor will be concerned about this season. We may not have a vaccine for COVID-19 yet, but we do have an effective and safe vaccine for the flu.

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    Where can I safely get a flu vaccine if COVID-19 is spreading in my community?

    You can contact your local health department or local pharmacy. You can also search to find where the vaccine is available near you.

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    If I do not have a primary care doctor, can I still get the vaccine?

    Yes. You can contact your local health department or local pharmacy. You can also search to find the nearest vaccination location.

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    Do flu vaccines cause any side effects?

    Side effects of the flu vaccine are generally mild and go away within a few days. Common side effects from the flu shot include:

    • Soreness, redness and/or swelling from the shot
    • Headache, fever and/or nausea
    • Muscle aches
    • The flu shot, like other injections, can occasionally cause fainting
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    Why is the influenza hospitalization higher among Black people? Since my county’s Black population is low, does that mean I don’t need to worry?

    While influenza can affect anyone, a CDC study published in 2016 showed that during the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 influenza seasons, socioeconomic status served as a determining factor in high-risk influenza cases and increased hospitalizations.

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    Aren’t flu and COVID basically the same thing? Will people have to get this vaccine then another for COVID?

    Influenza and COVID are two different viruses that have similar symptoms. COVID-19 tends to spread more rapidly, can be contagious for a more extended period of time, and has a higher risk of more severe illness in specific populations.

    Some complications of COVID-19 are blood clots and Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C). There is currently a seasonal influenza vaccination, but not a COVID-19 vaccination. Vaccinations recommended by the CDC are encouraged. A vaccination prepares one’s immune system in defending against specific illnesses and subsequent complications. Think of it in similar terms to personal vehicle insurance – you may have never been in a car accident, but you have insurance because it protects you and those around you!

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    Are vaccines safe? Most of the moms I know think vaccines cause autism or cancer. I’m not worried about getting the flu from the flu shot. I’m worried about getting something worse.

    Although vaccines can be controversial, there is no scientific evidence that the influenza vaccination and its ingredients such as mercury-containing thimerosal cause autism or certain cancers. Mercury-containing thimerosal in such small doses is considered a safe preservative in the influenza vaccination. If you are not comfortable with this option, influenza vaccinations are available without the mercury-containing thimerosal preservative. Research continues to show vaccines are safe, and it is actually riskier not to get vaccinated.