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Healthy Living: The Flu & The Importance of the Flu Vaccine!

We are joined by Andrea (Andee) Peaton from the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County. She is the HPV Ambassador Coordinator & the Community Immunization Liaison. Andrea educates the community on HPV and all vaccines. We talked during National Influenza Vaccination week, which has now ended, but it is still very important to get the Flu shot before January as the height of Flu season runs between January – February.

1.Today we are talking all about the flu shot but before I ask you about that, can you tell us more about the Flu & how we can protect ourselves from it in our daily routine?

  • The best way to protect yourself is to get the Flu shot!

  • However, some people cannot due to illness, or their immune system is compromised.

  • You want to make sure you wash your hands, keep your surfaces clean at home, use the antibacterial hand gels in between to help protect yourself and others.

  • If you have a little one that cannot get the vaccine yet (under 6 months old) you want to keep them isolated if anyone has the flu around them.

  • Lastly, if you are sick, stay home!

2. What are the most important facts about getting the flu shot that you want to


  • A lot of people think the flu is like a cold. It’s not the case.

  • Many times, you have to miss weeks from work or become hospitalized.

  • On average, we lose 42,000 people a year to the Flu (in the U.S).

  • The Flu can kill.

  • Even once you are better, you may feel the effects of the flu for weeks to come.

  • Each vaccine will protect you against 4 strands of the flu (based on what was the most problematic the year before).

  • We can test the effectiveness of the flu vaccine by year based on the numbers of those who have reported the flu.

  • However, we really don’t get hit with the flu until January and February. So, you don’t want to wait to hear about the effectiveness of the shot – you want to protect yourself before!

  • It takes about 2 weeks for the flu shot to get into your system, so that’s why its so important to get your flu shot early (especially before January!)

3. What are some of the most common myths you hear about the flu shot?

  • The flu shot cannot give you the flu

  • The flu shot is a dead version of the virus.

  • You may feel achy, or get a slight temperature, after getting the flu shot but that is not the flu.

  • Your white blood cells are working to block the flu shot that it’s in your body to create memory cells, so when you are actually exposed to the flu it can fight it.

  • Remember that it takes 2 weeks for the flu shot to get into your system, so if you get the flu after getting the flu shot, then you were exposed to it within that time.

  • Also, you can still get the flu shot, and still get the flu. You will have a much milder version of the flu.

  • Other common myths are that after the shot your arm could become paralyzed or that your arm will swell. This will not happen (and are myths of other vaccines as well).

4. Where can people get the flu shot at here in Florida generally, and here in Pinellas?

  • You can get them at the Florida Department of Health (the no cost week is over).

  • If you don’t have insurance – please look out for vaccine outreach events.

  • You can also go to CVS, Walgreens, Publix, Walmart, Costco, etc. and pay the out of pocket cost if you can, or if you are insured it may be covered.

  • Lastly, you can always go to your private doctor.

  • Sometimes your insurance company will even reimburse you for your flu shot! So, look into what your company offers.

5. Anything else you would like us to know?

  • If you are over the age of 65, please request a high dose of the flu vaccine.

  • 185 Pediatric deaths occurred in the 2017-2018 Flu season. We want to protect our children by getting them the vaccine as soon as possible.

  • If you are not quite sure about the information you are seeing about the flu shot or any vaccine, you can call your local health department.

  • You can also ask your doctor or a nurse at your doctor’s office.

  • Please make sure you are reading credible sites when researching information about vaccines.

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