2016-2017 Seasonal Flu Information
The Berrien County Health Department offers flu vaccinations in Benton Harbor and Niles clinic locations by appointment only. Please call for an appointment, as appointment availability varies by location.
Flu vaccinations offered for children, adults, and seniors include the flu shot, and the high-dose flu shot for seniors ages 65+. The cost for these vaccines are covered by most insurance plans. We accept Medicaid, Medicare, MI Child, Priority Health, and Blue Cross/Blue Shield insurances and receipts are provided for other insurances to reimburse the cost. While the cost of the flu shot is usually free with insurance, no one will be turned away for an inability to pay.
Other Community Flu Resources:
There are a variety of locations to get a flu shot this year - local pharmacies, family physicians office, some work places, and Lakeland Health Community Clinics.
What is seasonal flu?
Seasonal flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It spreads between people and can cause mild to severe illness. In some cases, the flu can lead to death. In the United States, flu season occurs in the fall and winter. Seasonal flu activity usually peaks in January or February, but it can occur as early as October and as late as May.
How can I protect myself and my family from the flu?
The best way to protect yourself and your family from getting the flu is to get a flu vaccine every year. It is recommended that everyone 6 months of age and older should get the flu vaccine. Seasonal flu vaccines have a very good safety track record. The flu vaccine is available by shot or nasal spray.
Who should get vaccinated this season?
While everyone who is at least 6 months of age should get a flu vaccine this season, it’s especially important for some people to get vaccinated.
Those people include the following:
- People who are at high risk of developing serious complications (like pneumonia) if they get sick with the flu.
- People who have certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.
- Pregnant women.
- People younger than 5 years (and especially those younger than 2).
- People 65 years and older.
- People who live with or care for others who are at high risk of developing serious complications.
- Household contacts and caregivers of people with certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.
- Household contacts and caregivers of infants less than 6 months old.
- A complete list is available at People Who Are at High Risk of Developing Flu-Related Complications.
How effective is the flu shot?
How well the flu vaccine works (or its ability to prevent flu illness) can range widely from season to season. In general, recent studies have supported the conclusion that flu vaccination benefits public health, especially when the flu vaccine is well matched to circulating flu viruses.
What are the risks from getting a flu shot?
Over the last 50 years, seasonal flu vaccines have had very good safety track records. Over the years, hundreds of millions of Americans have received seasonal flu vaccines. The most common side effects following flu vaccinations are mild. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) closely monitor for any signs that flu vaccines are causing unexpected adverse events and are working with state and local health officials to investigate any unusual events.
What are the side effects that could occur?
- Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
- Fever (low grade)
The intradermal flu shot may cause other additional mild side effects including:
- Toughness and itching where the shot was given
If these problems occur, they begin soon after the shot and usually last one to two days. Life-threatening allergic reactions are very rare. If any unusual condition occurs following vaccination, seek medical attention right away.
Can the flu shot give me the flu?
No, a flu shot cannot give you the flu. Flu vaccines that are administered with a needle are currently made in two ways: the vaccine is made either with a) flu vaccine viruses that have been ‘inactivated’ and are therefore not infectious, or b) with no flu vaccine viruses at all (which is the case for recombinant influenza vaccine). In randomized, blinded studies, where some people got flu shots and others got saltwater shots, the only differences in symptoms was increased soreness in the arm and redness at the injection site among people who got the flu shot. There were no differences in terms of body aches, fever, cough, runny nose or sore throat.
Why do some people not feel well after getting the flu shot?
The flu shot can cause mild side effects that are sometimes mistaken for flu. For example, people sometimes experience a sore arm where the shot was given. The soreness is often caused by a person’s immune system making protective antibodies in response to being vaccinated. These antibodies are what allow the body to fight against flu. The needle stick may also cause some soreness at the injection site. Rarely, people who get the flu shot have fever, muscle pain, and feelings of discomfort or weakness. If experienced at all, these effects usually last 1-2 days after vaccination and are much less severe than actual flu illness.
What about people who get a seasonal flu vaccine and still get sick with flu-like symptoms?
There are several reasons why someone might get flu-like symptoms even after they have been vaccinated against the flu.
- People may be exposed to an influenza virus shortly before getting vaccinated or during the two-week period that it takes the body to gain protection after getting vaccinated. This exposure may result in a person becoming ill with flu before the vaccine begins to protect them.
- A person may be exposed to an influenza virus that is not included in the seasonal flu vaccine. There are many different influenza viruses that circulate every year. The flu shot protects against the 3 or 4 viruses (depending on whether the flu shot is a trivalent or quadrivalent vaccine) that research suggests will be most common.
- Unfortunately, some people can get infected with an influenza vaccine virus despite getting vaccinated. Protection provided by influenza vaccination can vary widely, based in part on health and age factors of the person getting vaccinated. In general, the flu vaccine works best among young healthy adults and older children. Some older people and people with certain chronic illnesses may develop less immunity after vaccination. However, even among people who tend to respond less well to vaccination, the flu vaccine can still help prevent influenza. Vaccination is particularly important for people at high risk of serious flu-related complications and for close contacts of high-risk people.