New Mexico VA Health Care System
Importance of Getting Your Flu Shot
Some people refuse to get a seasonal flu shot, even though there may be no medical reason preventing them from doing so. They may claim they are so healthy that they never get the flu and, therefore don’t require immunization. Others may tell you the shot will actually give them the flu virus.
The problem is that myths such as these often perpetuate the spread of influenza virus.
“You can help stop the spread of flu by covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue, washing your hands often, and staying at home when you are ill,” said Mary Jaco, RN, Infection Control Practitioner for the New Mexico VA Health Care System (NMVAHCS). “But one of the best precautions you can take is to get your flu shot.”
Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently. Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others. During a regular flu season, about 90 percent of deaths occur in people 65 years and older. The flu season in this country can begin as early as October and last as late as May.
You may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after becoming sick. Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others for an even longer time.
People who experience vaccine side effects sometimes confuse those with the actual flu. But the truth is that the viruses in the flu shot are killed (inactivated), so a person cannot get the flu from a flu shot. Some minor side effects that may occur include aches, low-grade fever, and soreness, redness or swelling where the shot was given. If these problems occur, they begin soon after the shot and usually last one to two days.
The annual Walk-In Clinic opened on Oct. 18 at the Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center in Albuquerque. The clinic operates from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, in the Ambulatory Care Clinic (Room 1A100A) on the first floor of Building 41. The Walk-In Clinic will remain open through Nov. 18.
The flu vaccine also is available to veterans at VA Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs) across New Mexico, as well as in Durango, Colo. Veterans are encouraged to call their local CBOC for flu shot clinic dates and times.
Once again this year, the VA and Walgreens drug stores are teaming-up to fight the flu through the VA Retail Immunization Care Coordination Program. Enrolled Veterans of the NMVAHCS can walk into any Walgreens to get a flu shot, and no appointment is required. Your immunization record will be updated electronically in your local VA electronic health record. Participation is strictly voluntary, and all you have to do is show your VA Veterans Identification Card and another form of ID.
For more information about the flu shot clinic, please call the Infection Control Department at (505) 265-1711, ext. 4575 or ext. 4363.