Fall has arrived, which means the children are back to school, it’s football season and the weather should start to cool. It also marks the start of flu season.
“With so many things happening now, staying healthy should be a priority,” said Dr. Denise Sur, chief of staff at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica. “Protecting yourself with a flu shot is a simple way to stay healthy and avoid the potentially life-threatening complications of the flu.”
The Centers for Disease Control recommends that everyone six months or older, especially those over 50, pregnant women and those who have chronic illnesses such as asthma or HIV, get the annual flu vaccination.
“Now is the ideal time for it because you need to get vaccinated before you’re exposed to the flu for it to work,” said Sur, who is also director of the UCLA Family Medicine Residency in Santa Monica. “It takes about two weeks after the shot for the body to develop its immune response, so October is the perfect month to get the shot. “
While patients frequently worry about getting the flu from the vaccine, their fears are unfounded: It’s not possible because the flu shot contains no live virus.
According to Sur, parents are often concerned that the vaccine contains mercury, a preservative thought to lead to other illnesses. She emphasized that the medical community now agrees that there’s no evidence that the trace amounts of mercury found in vaccines can cause problems.
Since there are no vaccinations against colds, sore throats and other common infections, Sur recommends frequent hand washing, covering coughs with a sleeve, and keeping hands away from eyes, hands and nose to help prevent the spread of illness.
UCLA Health has made it easy for community residents to receive flu shots this month. Flu-shot clinics have been scheduled in four different Los Angeles communities. Adults and children over the age of 5 who are not allergic to eggs or sick are eligible. The shots are $25, but free to members of UCLA Health’s 50-Plus program who present their membership cards. If covered, insurance plans can be billed.
No appointments are necessary. For more information, call 800.516.5323 or visit www.uclahealth.org/flu.
Locations and dates:
Saturday, Oct. 19, 10 am to 1 pm
Tuesday, Oct. 22, 5 to 8 pm
UCLA Santa Monica Bay Physicians
2424 Wilshire Blvd.
Marina del Rey
Sunday, Oct. 20, 10 am to 1 pm
Wednesday, Oct. 23, 5 to 8 pm
UCLA Playa Marina Urgent Care
4560 Admiralty Way, Suite 100
Saturday, Oct. 19, 1 to 4 pm
Saturday, Oct. 26, 1 to 4 pm
UCLA Brentwood Medical Group
11980 San Vicente Blvd., Suite 102