I got my flu shot to help protect…

  • My Baby
  • My immunocompromised neighbor
  • My best friend’s toddler
  • My pregnant friend
  • My grandmother
  • A lot of other people
  • Oh yeah… and myself.

We normally try to keep things pretty light here at Spokane Eats, but today we are discussing something that is especially pertinent this time of year and in this stage of my life. The questions is – whether or not to get the flu vaccine.

Before making a decision, I really wanted to educate myself and do as much research as I could on the topic. That’s why I partnered with Kaiser Permanente Washington to bring greater awareness to the importance of keeping healthy throughout the flu season, and to dispel some common misconceptions about the flu vaccine.

Here are some of the questions I asked along with the information I found…

What is the flu?

First, it’s important to understand the flu. We all know the basics, and many of us have probably suffered the symptoms at one point in our lives. But according to the CDC[WA1] , “The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.”

How does it spread?

The flu[WA2]  is an infectious disease caused by a virus. The flu virus is extremely contagious because it can be spread airborne AND on surfaces. The virus becomes airborne when someone coughs or sneezes, which happens quite often this time of year as I’m sure you’ve noticed.

Fun fact (that’s not so fun)…When someone coughs or sneezes it releases over half a million particles into the air. There’s your visual into how easily this virus can spread in public places!

Another fun fact: The flu virus can live up to 1-2 days on hard surfaces, 15 minutes on a tissue, and five minutes on your skin. This is why it’s so important to properly wash your hands and sanitize surfaces often during flu season.

How do my specific circumstances affect my vulnerability?

On average, I’m on an airplane eight times per month. Between the recycled air pumping through the plane, and trudging through airport traffic, oversaturated with germs and people, it’s safe to say I come in contact with a lot of germs. We all do!

Something I have learned the hard way is that when you are pregnant you have a weakened immune system which puts you at greater risk for contracting illnesses.

So – does being pregnant affect my doctor’s recommendation to get a flu shot? The answer is a big fat yes. My doctor highly suggested that I get the flu shot to protect myself and my baby. To answer a commonly asked question, Yes, Flu shots are safe for you and your baby.

There’s an added bonus to getting immunizations like the flu shot when pregnant. It’s called Passive Immunity, where the goal is that both you and your baby will be protected as you pass antibodies to them.

So, when should I get a flu shot?

As for getting the vaccine while pregnant, any vaccine given before 15 days of delivery can be beneficial to you and baby.

Kaiser Permanente Washington recommends immunization for everyone 6 months and older. According to the organization, the flu vaccine is “especially important for high-risk individuals, including children, pregnant women, adults over the age of 50, and those with chronic conditions. Caregivers for high-risk individuals should be vaccinated.

It’s important to get your flu shot as soon as you can, because it can take up to two weeks for the antibodies to develop enough to provide protection. Once you receive your vaccine, it will last until it’s time for a vaccination next fall. And it is never too late to get your flu shot. It is better to receive a flu vaccine late than not at all.

Where can I go in Spokane to get a free flu shot?

As a Kaiser Permanente Washington member, you can get the flu shot at no cost at their facilities in Washington state. For more details, visit: https://k-p.li/2m6AOMW

I recently visited the Kaiser Permanente Riverfront Medical Center to get my flu shot. I was really impressed by the friendly staff, ease of service, and cleanliness of the building. It seems that the employees really enjoy what they do and work hard to provide the best possible care for each and every patient. This location services primary care, a walk-in clinic, pharmacy, lab, radiology, endocrinology, mental health, neurology, and much more!

How effective is the flu shot?

According to the CDC, recent studies show that the flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu illness by between 40% and 60% among the overall population during seasons when most circulating flu viruses.

Vaccines work best when a high proportion of people in a community are immunized against a contagious disease. This “community immunity” helps to protect everyone — including those who can’t receive vaccines, such as people with severe immune system problems.

“The flu shot prevented 7.1 million flu illnesses in 2017–2018”, according to the CDC.

Lastly, how else can I protect myself?

The best way to protect yourself from contracting the flu is to wash your hands often and avoid touching your face. In addition, you are better protected if you are eating well, staying hydrated, and doing what you can to getting enough sleep.