Why Experts Say Michigan Flu Shots Are More Important Than Ever

It's Not Too Late to get a Flu Vaccine

Author: Sherry Farney

Everyone 6 months of age and older should get an influenza (flu) vaccine every season with rare exception, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

A flu vaccine is needed every year for two reasons. First, a person’s immune protection from vaccination declines over time, so an annual flu vaccine is needed for optimal protection. Second, because flu viruses are constantly changing, the composition of flu vaccines is reviewed annually, and vaccines are updated to protect against the viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming flu season.

It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against influenza virus infection.

“Since it takes around two to four weeks to provide full protection, the best time to get your flu shot is now to ensure you are covered for the full six months of the flu season,” said Kyleigh Naismith, DO, FACOFP, family medicine physician at McLaren Flint-Fenton Community Medical Center. “If you aren’t able to get your flu shot this month, then get it whenever you can so you are protected sooner.

“The flu shot is important because it protects you, your family, and your community. To take care of oneself and each other, we have to be in our best health. A vaccination helps achieve this.”

Although uncommon, the flu shot can sometimes have side effects, but the shot itself does not make you get sick. Common side effects can include injection site tenderness, redness, warmth, and swelling. Some people may develop chills, fever, and body aches, but this is less common.

“The vast majority of people feel fine after an influenza vaccine,” said Dr. Naismith. “The flu shot does not make you sick. The vaccine itself is actually showing a small piece of the flu virus to your immune system, which stimulates your immune system to make antibodies, but does not cause you to have the flu.

“Your immune system releases different particles to produce an immune response for protection, but sometimes these are nonspecific and that’s what can cause side effects like fever, chills, local redness and warmth. Treating side effects with Tylenol or Motrin can minimize them, allowing people can get back to their daily routines.”

If you haven’t already received your Covid vaccine or you are due for your booster, you can receive these at the same time as your flu vaccination.

“The best timing is to do both the Covid vaccine or Covid booster and the flu vaccination together,” said Dr. Naismith. “If not done at the same time, waiting two to four weeks in between shots is recommended.”

No appointment necessary flu vaccines are now available at the McLaren Flint-Grand Blanc Convenient Care Center. Visit mclaren.org/gbcare for details.