In the U.S. alone, the Centers for Disease Control estimated that during last year’s flu season (Oct. 1, 2018 to May 4, 2019) there were 37.4 to 42.9 million flu illnesses, and reports across the country show the flu has started even earlier.
Doctors with the University of Minnesota Physicians are prepared to help prevent the flu this season and are advising patients to receive the flu vaccine now. One of those providers, Dr. Tanner Nissly, who is the medical director at the Broadway Family Medicine Clinic, is ready to combat the illness in the Twin Cities as flu cases begin to emerge.
“The main thing we always do is try to identify our highest risk patients and prioritize them to get vaccinated,” he explains.
Those highest risk patients include elders, young children, pregnant women and people with respiratory illness, cardiovascular disease or diabetes. However, Dr. Nissly advises everyone to receive the flu vaccine.
The current vaccine is quadrivalent, meaning it protects against four different strains of the flu. Although the vaccine does not prevent all cases of the flu, it can weaken the symptoms and shorten the span of the illness if patients do contract it. It’s because of this that one of the biggest misconceptions about the vaccine is that it doesn’t work.
“The vaccine makes it less likely to get the flu, and if you do get the flu, it won’t be as bad. It is worthwhile for everyone to get the flu vaccine, especially if you are around people who are at a higher risk of getting the flu.”
Tanner Nissly, DO, Family Medicine Physician
Another big misconception is that the vaccine makes people sick.
“It is not possible to get sick from the flu vaccine,” he says. “You can have mild reactions that may feel like an illness that lasts 1 or 2 days, but often, it is the time of year when people get a lot of colds, and they may mistake the cold for the flu when it isn’t linked to the vaccine at all.”
The CDC recommends that everyone receive their flu shots by the end of October. To get yours, visit your local M Physicians clinic today. To find a clinic nearest to you, scroll through the "clinics" menu at the top of the webpage.