Fall has arrived, which means the kids are back to school, football season is in full swing 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 recommend that everyone six months or older, especially those over 50, pregnant women and those who have chronic illnesses, 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 also serves as director of the UCLA Family Medicine Residency in Santa Monica. “It takes about two weeks after getting the shot for the body to develop its immune response, so October is the perfect month to be vaccinated.”
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 the eyes, nose and mouth to help prevent the spread of illness.
UCLA Health will be sponsoring community flu-shot clinics in October and November at the locations below to help residents protect themselves against this year’s flu strain. The shots are $25 and available to adults and children 5 years or older who are not allergic to eggs or sick.
Members of UCLA Health’s 50-Plus Program can obtain the shots for free by showing their membership cards at either location. Alternatively, 50-Plus members can obtain a voucher for a free flu shot at any CVS MinuteClinic in Southern California. For more information, call (800) 516-5323.
Community Flu Shot Clinics:
— Saturdays, Oct. 18 and 25 from 1 to 4 pm
UCLA Brentwood Office
11980 San Vicente Blvd., Suite 102
— Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 8-9 from 10 am to 2 pm
UCLA Playa Marina Urgent Care
4560 Admiralty Way, Suite 100