There a lot of things to love about winter: Christmas, bright lights, snow and holiday festivities to name a few things.

One thing people don’t love about the winter months is the flu. It’s estimated that about 20% of Americans come down with the flu every year, according to the Center for Disease Control and about 200,000 people end up in the hospital each year because of the flu.

If you’ve ever had the flu, you know how debilitating it can be and you can easily recognize all the symptoms: the fatigue and achiness in the joints, the fever, the chills, the headaches, the congestion, the sneezing, the stomach pains, the sore throat and the loss of appetite. There can be other symptoms associated with the flu, but the message is clear: the symptoms of the flu can be very wide-ranging and really leave people feeling drained.

So what the heck can you do to avoid the flu? The simplest answer is to visit one of your local urgent cares and get a flu shot. Depending where you go, flu shots run you about $40 and they may be covered by your insurance.

You’ve probably read a lot about flu shots on the Internet and be assured that getting a flu shot is absolutely safe. It should be noted that flu shots, help protect against the respiratory flu and not the stomach flu. A flu shot is an inactive form of the flu virus whose components WILL NOT make you sick..

So now that you know what a flu shot is and what it does, you might be wondering how and why they’re good for your health. By visit one of your local urgent cares and having a doctor administer a flu shot, you’re providing your body with the following benefits:

  • Not getting the flu: This is a no-brainer. The whole purpose of a flu shot is not to get the flu. Please not that it’s not a cure-all against the flu, but it certainly heightens your immunity against it.
  • Getting sick less often: As stated above, a flu shot doesn’t 100% guarantee you won’t get the flu, but it strengths your immunity and if you do catch it, the symptoms may be more on the mild side.
  • Protection: Another benefit to getting a flu shot is that you’re keeping people around your health, especially folks who can’t get vaccinated.
  • Less hospitalization: In some cases, flu shots can reduce risk of complications associated with the flu for groups such as pregnant women and senior citizens, who may be more susceptible to its effects.

As you can see, there are many benefits to visit local urgent cares for flu shots, but it’s also important to discuss a few risks:

  • You can still get sick: Even with a flu shot, it usually takes your body a few weeks to develop immunity to the flu and during that time, it’s possible to catch it. Part of this is because sometimes the strain of flu virus used in vaccines isn’t as strong as it should be. Researchers who help create a yearly vaccine can be wrong in their estimations of which strains will be active, which renders the vaccine less effective than it should be.
  • A bad reaction: With any kind of vaccine or medicine, it’s possible to have a bad reaction. If and when that happens, you can usually tell within a matter of minutes whether or not you’re effected because you may be tired, feel dizzy or have trouble breathing. Making a trip to an urgent care for treatment if and when that happens is a good idea.

If you’ve decided to get a flu shot, the best time to get one is in late fall, by the end of October. This gives your body plenty of time to develop immunity before the height of flu season. When it comes time to get a flu shot, make a trip to one of your local urgent cares or walk-in clinics; more than three million people go there each week and you want to make the best choice for your health.

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