Flu Shots: WHAT, WHO, HOW, WHEN, & WHY

We now have flu shots in all of our clinics!  Since flu season is just around the corner, so we thought we’d take a minute to talk about this important vaccine.  We often get questions about how the flu shot works, if it can make people sick, and who should get the vaccine. Here are all the most common patient questions we get, asked and answered!

WHAT: This year’s flu shots are unique.  They’re called quadrivalent, which means they cover four strains of the flu (previously, flu shots were trivalent, which means they only covered three strains of the flu.)  

Unlike previous flu shots, the quadrivalent flu shot is not incubated in eggs -- which means people with an egg allergy can get the flu shot this year.

The flu shot isn’t a live vaccine, so it can’t make you ill.  The most common side effects include soreness at the vaccine site and a mild headache or body aches.

WHO: The quadrivalent flu shot is appropriate for ages four years and older.  Children ages 6 months - 4 years can receive the appropriate vaccine from their pediatrician.

HOW: We have 6 clinics in the Bay Area, and we’re open 7 days a week.  To get a flu shot, you can schedule an appointment online or by phone, or simply walk in.  It costs $40.

WHEN: It takes 1-2 weeks to build up immunity after receiving a flu shot, so the sooner you get the vaccine, the better.

WHY: Flu shots save lives.          

         Each year in the U.S., approximately 36,000 people die from influenza each year.  The flu shot has shown to prevent 22% of influenza-related deaths, which means that flu shots save thousands of lives.=

          Flu shots prevent complications.

          In addition to the number of patients who die each year from influenza, another 200,000 people are hospitalized due to complications.  Flu shots prevent more than 70% of hospitalizations in adults -- which means they prevent hundreds of thousands of hospital admissions.

            Flu shots keep others from getting the flu.

            20-30% of people infected with the influenza virus have no symptoms, which means they can easily transmit the infection to others -- especially young children, elderly adults, people with chronic diseases, and people who are immunocompromised.  By getting a flu shot, you can avoid being a carrier of the virus -- which keeps your patients (and anyone else you come in contact with) stay safer and healthier.


To get your flu shot, make an appointment or simply walk-in to any of our six Bay Area locations. We’re open seven days a week to care for you!

Sarah Thebarge MMSc, PA-C Sarah Thebarge earned her physician assistant degree at Yale School of Medicine, and then studied journalism at Columbia School of Journalism. She has been a physician assistant and a freelance journalist since 2004. In addition to caring for patients at Golden Gate Urgent Care, Sarah frequently volunteers her medical skills in the developing world. Her writing has appeared in Huffington Post, USA Today and National Geographic, and her blog was featured on MSNBC.com. She is the author of the memoir The Invisible Girls and the upcoming book WELL: Healing our Beautiful, Broken World from a Hospital in West Africa. She currently lives in the Mission District of San Francisco.

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