Flu Shot FAQ Guide: Our Best Tips for Patients and Families in Denver
Now is the time to get your flu shot. While the Centers for Disease Control recommend everybody gets a flu shot, typically less than half of people do so. The overwhelming consensus of medical professionals is that the benefits of flu vaccination outweigh the minimal side effects. Sometimes, people avoid getting their flu shot as a general distrust of vaccines. Most often, it’s the time and hassle of figuring out when and where to get the flu shot.
Rocky Mountain Urgent Care and Family Medicine wanted to give patients and families in Denver the information and resources they need to get their flu shots reliably, quickly, and safely. We also offer tips on how to get the most effective protection against influenza from this year’s flu shot.
Where is the Best Place in Denver to Get Flu Shots?
The good news is that many places provide free flu shots for people with insurance. If you have an Affordable Care Act plan, the insurance automatically covers the cost of flu shots as preventative care. Even if your health plan doesn’t cover a flu shot or if you’re without health insurance, you can typically get a flu shot for about $50 or less. In addition to urgent care clinics and primary care physicians, you can also find flu shots from local pharmacies and retail health clinics such as Walgreens, CVS, King Soopers, Safeway, Walmart, and Sam’s Club. You can find a full list of health providers that offer flu shots and other vaccinations in Colorado.
While health experts predict there should be plenty of flu shots available this year, many healthcare providers carry a limited supply. For this reason, you should verify that the flu shot is available when making an appointment or before showing up at a walk-in clinic.
Here at Rocky Mountain Urgent Care, we keep a certain number of flu shots available, primarily for the patients and families in Colorado who come to our family medicine practice. If you’re already visiting our clinic for another health issue, you may be able to take care of your flu shot at the same time. If you don’t need other healthcare services, we recommend Vaccine Finder when looking for the best places in Denver to get flu shots.
When is the Best Time to Get Flu Shots?
The end of October is the best and most generally agreed upon time. While the CDC has long suggested that people get their flu shots no later than the end of October, research in the last few years shows that the effectiveness of the flu shot wanes as the season goes on. Thus, people who get their flu shots at the beginning of the season are more likely to catch the tail end of the infectious season. However, while the flu shot isn’t 100% effective in immunizing against influenza strains, there is also evidence to suggest that flu symptoms aren’t as severe, on average, for people who got a flu shot.
So wait too long, and you could be among the first—and hardest hit—by this year’s flu. According to the Colorado Flu Report, there were already 17 hospitalizations this flu season by October 19th. Another reason not to wait too long to get your flu shot is the limited supply. While you should be able to find providers with shots available throughout the entire flu season, your preferred location may run out.
How Long does a Flu Shot Last for?
The end of October might sound early for a vaccine that wears off, but it also takes about two weeks for your body to build up the antibodies that create the immunity. After two weeks, this immunity will very gradually wear off over a period of about 6 months. According to research from Kaiser Permanente Northern California (KPNC), the vaccine is about 16 percent less effective for every 4 weeks after the flu shot takes effect. Thus, by timing your flu shot right, you should be able to enjoy strong immunity against the flu throughout the holiday and winter travel season.
Why is Getting a Flu Shot Important?
The most obvious benefit is a lower chance of getting the flu—about 40 to 60 percent lower. More than just avoiding a trip to the doctor’s office, the flu vaccine reduces your chances of hospitalization, complications with chronic conditions, and death. There is also some evidence to suggest that the flu shot lowers the risk of some cardiac events, diabetes, and chronic lung disease. Unless you’ve experienced a rare and severe allergic reaction to vaccinations in the past, the flu shot is beneficial for everybody including young children, the elderly, and pregnant women. Learn more about the research supporting the benefits of the flu vaccine from the CDC.