Every year in this country 5 to 20 percent of the population gets the flu, more than 30,000 people die from the flu and 200,000 are hospitalized. Influenza, or "flu," is a contagious respiratory virus that can be mild or serious. It is especially dangerous for the very young, people ages 65 and oler and those with chronic medical conditions. The best prevention against influenza is to be vaccinated.
Here is information about the flu and where to get a flu shot in the Washington, DC area, including Maryland and Virginia.
Flu shots are highly recommended for:
- people that are 50 or older
- children ages 6 months to 5 years
- pregnant women
- healthcare workers
- people with chronic medical conditions, like arthritis, cancer, diabetes, dialysis patients, respiratory diseases, heart disease, AIDS, and high blood pressure.
- people who live with others who are at risk for flu-related complications.
When to Get a Flu Shot
The flu season runs from October through April, so the best time to get a flu shot is October and November to provide protection throughout the flu season. You can however get the flu shot at any time.
Cost of a Flu Shot
The cost of a flu shot ranges from $15 to $30 depending on where you get it. Medicare, Medicaid and most insurance companies cover the cost of flu shots for the elderly and other high-risk groups.
Most people who get the flu vaccine experience no side effects. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you cannot get the flu from a flu shot. Some minor side effects that can occur are soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given or a low grade fever.
Flu Shot Versus FluMist
Until 2016-2017, you had two choices to protect yourself against the flu: a shot or a nasal spray mist called FluMist.
Center for Disease Control (CDC) health officials now say that the nasal spray should no longer be used because recent studies show it is not effective in preventing the flu.
Where to Get a Flu Shot
- your personal physician
- employer flu shot clinics
- pharmacies (Costco, Giant, Safeway, CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens, Shoppers, Food Lion, Bloom, Walmart, BJs)
- county or city health departments
- medical clinics or local hospitals
- veterans enrolled in VA Healthcare can get free flu shots at their local VA health facility or at their neighborhood Walgreens.
To find a flu shot provider near you, visit Find a Flu Shot, an online source by Maxim Health Systems that lists locations by zip code.
Additional Resources on the Flu
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
- Maryland Department of Health
- Influenza activity in Virginia