Stay healthy in San Diego, North County and abroad — get the flu shot.
Avoiding illness and staying healthy is important. During the flu season, one way to do that is by getting the flu shot. At Sharp Community we want you to have the information you need to know before getting vaccinated.
Know before you go.
- The flu shot is free. For Sharp Community members with an HMO health insurance plan, flu shots are 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 shot at any time. Flu shots are 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 shot, ask your doctor if any of the following apply to you:
- Had a severe allergy to chicken eggs or a severe reaction to the flu shot
- Had a severe reaction to an influeza 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 2019-2020 seasonal flu vaccine will protect against three or four strains of influenza: A/Brisbane/02/2018 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus (updated), A/Kansas/14/2017 (H3N2)-like virus (updated), B/Colorado/06/2017-like (Victoria lineage) virus. Quadrivalent vaccines will also contain the three strains above plus B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus (B/Yamagata lineage).
- Flu 2019-2020: FAQs from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- The flu shot can lower your chances of getting the flu and reduce the severity of the illness.
- Flu vaccine is a "killed" virus and cannot cause the flu.
- 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?
The National Center for Infectious Diseases (a division of the 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 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 got 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 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 six months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)