The Flu Shot: Is it a Trick or a Treat?

By K Health
Medically reviewed checkmarkMedically reviewed
August 29, 2019

We’re two weeks away from the start of flu season, and since the flu vaccine can take two weeks to become effective, get yours by Halloween, says Dr. Edo Paz, VP of Medical at K Health. The flu shot won’t give you the flu, it simply contains an inactive vaccine made of the killed virus. Because of that, the vaccine enables your body to develop antibodies necessary to prevent the influenza virus.

If you don’t do it for yourself, do it for your neighbors.

If you’re healthy and you catch the flu, it may just feel like a bad cold. But you could spread it to the elderly, babies, and people with weaker immune systems for whom the flu can be fatal. Just like voting and sneezing into your elbow, getting the flu shot is something you can do for your community.

The shot acts as a community shield, technically called herd immunity. The more people get the shot, the fewer cases of flu occur, which can slow down the spread of the virus protecting the most vulnerable in the community who may not be able to receive the vaccine. And the good news is most insurance plans offer flu shots for free.

How contagious is the flu, really?

It’s super contagious. Technically, influenza is the 6th most contagious primary care condition. The only conditions that are more contagious are colds like upper respiratory infections and laryngitis. It’s especially troublesome in cities like New York, where contact with sick people on buses and trains is much more a part of daily life than in driving cities like Los Angeles. This shows up in our user data where 48% of those who were diagnosed with influenza by an external physician answered ‘yes’ when asked if they had contact with someone who was sick.

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How do I know if it’s the flu or a cold?

If you find yourself sniffling, sneezing or coughing, check in with K. We have 25 years of clinical data from over 2 million people, so we can compare your symptoms with people like you who experienced the same thing. After a two minute chat with K, you’ll see which conditions others had and what doctors did to treat them. For example, you may see that people like you had the flu and got Tamiflu from their primary care doctor. Or you may see that your symptoms are similar to cases of sinusitis. Importantly, you’ll also see if there’s any chance of pneumonia.

4 Ways to Avoid Getting Sick this Fall:

  • Get vaccinated to eliminate your chance of catching the flu. Your doctor will have access to the vaccine, or check with your local pharmacy.
  • Avoid physical contact with sick people when possible.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze into your elbow vs your hands.

If you do catch something, be sure to have K on your phone and check your symptoms whenever they pop up. K will follow up with you so you can evaluate your situation over time. If you’re based in NYC you can book a same day appointment with a provider near you.

K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

K Health

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