Sharp Community Medical Group (SCMG) is committed to helping you avoid illness and stay healthy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone six months and older get a flu vaccine each year.
- As an SCMG HMO member there is no charge for this vaccination. Flu shots are fully covered by your HMO when administered at one of these immunizing sites. There will be a fee for all non-SCMG members who receive flu vaccine.
- SCMG members with an HMO plan (including Medicare Advantage) may go to their doctor's office or directly to one of the SCMG flu vaccine sites.
- It is required that you bring your Health Plan insurance card with you when you come to the flu clinic for the vaccination to be free of charge. Please indicate to the pharmacist that you are a Sharp Community Medical Group member when presenting your card.
- You may walk-in, but we do recommend you call first to verify wait times and that vaccine is still available that day.
- Flu shots are available during business hours, evenings, and weekends.
Check with your doctor before receiving flu vaccine if any of the following apply to you:
- Have ever had a severe allergy to chicken eggs or a severe reaction to the flu shot.
- People who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination.
- Have ever had Guillain-Barre Syndrome.
- Children less than six months of age.
- People who have a moderate-to-severe illness with a fever (they should wait until they recover to get vaccinated).
- Seasonal Flu: What you should know…
- Can lower your chances of getting the flu and reduce the severity of the illness.
- Is a “killed” virus and cannot cause the flu.
- Is safe and for most people, causes only minor, if any side effects.
Vaccine effectiveness varies from year to year, depending upon the degree of similarity between the influenza virus strains included in the vaccine and the strain or strains that circulate during the influenza season. Vaccine strains must be chosen nine to 10 months before the influenza season, and sometimes mutations occur in the circulating strains of viruses between the time vaccine strains are chosen and the next influenza season. These mutations sometimes reduce the ability of the vaccine-induced-antibody to inhibit the newly mutated virus, thereby reducing vaccine effectiveness.
Vaccine effectiveness also varies from one person to another, depending on factors such as age and overall health. So, even if it's not a perfect match, the antibodies made in response to vaccination with one flu virus can sometimes provide protection against different but related viruses.
What are the side effects of the flu vaccine?
The National Center for Infectious Diseases (a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC) says that influenza vaccine causes no side effects in most people who are not allergic to eggs. Less than one-third of people who receive the vaccine experience some soreness at the vaccination site, and about five to 10 percent experience mild side effects, such as headache or low-grade fever for about a day after receiving the vaccination.
Because these mild side effects mimic some influenza symptoms, some people believe the influenza vaccine causes them to get influenza. However, according to the CDC, "the viruses in the flu shot are killed (inactivated), so you cannot get the flu from a flu shot.."
When should I get a flu shot?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting the flu shot every year, between August and mid-October, before the flu season hits (usually November to May). The flu shot takes about two weeks to become effective.
Although there are many new medications designed to treat flu symptoms and even shorten the duration of the illness, the flu vaccine still offers the best protection against the flu.
I get the flu shot, can I still get the flu?
Every year, the flu shot "cocktail" changes to combat the current strains of influenza affecting the population. The World Health Organization (WHO) monitors flu outbreaks worldwide and recommends appropriate vaccine compositions to be used for the next year. However, sometimes, a strain may appear that was not included in the flu vaccine. People who have had the flu shot tend to have milder symptoms if they contract the flu.
Who is considered "high-risk" for the flu?
- Pregnant women
- All children age six months to five years
- People 50 years of age and older
- Morbidly obese (BMI is 40+)
- People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease
- People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
- People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including:
- Health care workers
- Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu
- Household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)