Stay healthy in San Diego and North County — get the flu vaccine.
Avoiding illness and staying healthy is important. During the flu season, one way to do that is by getting the flu vaccine. At Sharp Community we want you to have the information you need to know before getting vaccinated.
Get the flu vaccine. It's more important than ever.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting your routine vaccinations — including the annual flu vaccine — during the COVID-19 pandemic. Keep yourself, your family and your community healthy and prevent illnesses that may lead to doctor visits and hospital stays.
If you have COVID-19 symptoms, or if you've had a positive test for COVID-19, don't go to your doctor's office or vaccine site for your routine vaccination. Call your primary care doctor to find out when it is safe for you to go in person.
Know before you go.
- The flu vaccine is free. For Sharp Community members with an HMO health insurance plan, the flu vaccine is fully covered when given at one of these flu vaccine sites. There is a fee for all non-Sharp Community members who receive the flu vaccine.
- Visit your doctor's office or a flu vaccine site. If you have an HMO health insurance plan, including Medicare Advantage, you can go to your primary care doctor's office or directly to a flu vaccine site.
- Bring your health plan insurance card so that you are not charged. When you go to a flu vaccine site, tell the pharmacist that you are a Sharp Community Medical Group member when showing your card.
- Walk-ins are welcome. But, we do recommend you call the flu vaccine site to check wait times and that flu vaccine is still available.
- Get the flu vaccine at any time. The flu vaccine is available during business hours, evenings and weekends. Be sure to check the flu vaccine site's hours.
Check with your doctor.
Before getting the flu vaccine, ask your doctor if any of the following apply to you:
- Have symptoms of COVID-19, tested positive for COVID-19 or had recent exposure to someone with COVID-19 - please call your primary care doctor and do not go to the office in person.
- Had a severe allergy to chicken eggs or a severe reaction to the flu vaccine
- Had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination
- Had Guillain-Barre Syndrome
- Are a child less than six months of age
- Have a moderate-to-severe illness with a fever (you should wait until you recover to get vaccinated)
Frequently asked questions about the flu.
What should I know about getting vaccinated?
- The 2020-2021 seasonal flu vaccine will protect against three or four strains of influenza. Egg-based vaccines will include A/Guangdong-Maonan/SWL1536/2019 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus, A/Hong Kong/2671/2019 (H3N2)-like virus, and B/Washington/02/2019 (B/Victoria lineage)-like virus, with quadrivalent vaccines also containing B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus. Cell- or recombinant based vaccines will contain A/Hawaii/70/2019 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus, A/Hong Kong/45/2019 (H3N2)-like virus, B/Washington/02/2019 (B/Victoria lineage)-like virus, and B/Phuket/3073/2013 (Yamagata lineage)-like virus.
- The flu shot can lower your chances of getting the flu and reduce the severity of the illness.
- Flu vaccines cannot cause the flu. The flu shot contains a "killed" virus. The intranasal flu vaccine contains virus that has been changed so it cannot cause infection.
- Getting the flu shot is safe and for most people causes only minor, if any, side effects.
How effective is the flu vaccine?
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?
Most people have no side effects or only mild side effects with the flu vaccine. Mild side effects may include soreness at the site of a flu shot, nasal congestion with the intranasal vaccine, and headache or low-grade fever with either type of vaccine.
Because some of these mild side effects mimic influenza symptoms, some people believe the influenza vaccine causes them to get influenza. However, neither the flu shot nor the intranasal flu vaccine can cause infection.
More serious side effects, such as allergic reactions, are very rare. Talk to your health care provider if you have had a severe reaction to a flu vaccine in the past or if you are concerned about your risk for a severe reaction.
When should I get the flu vaccine?
The CDC recommends getting the flu vaccine every year, between August and mid-October, before the flu season hits (usually November to May). The flu vaccine 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 got the flu vaccine, can I still get the flu?
Every year, the flu vaccine "cocktail" changes to combat the current strains of influenza affecting the population. The World Health Organization 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 vaccine 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 six months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)