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Why You Should Get a Flu Shot

Dr. Michael FinkelsteinDr. Michael FinkelsteinBoard certified internist at the Scarsdale Medical Group Dr. Michael Finkelstein tells us why it’s important to get the flu shot:

Why is it important to get the flu vaccine this year?

In general, it’s important to get a flu shot every year because even if the flu strain isn’t 100% covered by the vaccine, it still offers you protection and can lessen symptoms. This year, it’s even more important to get vaccinated because we also have the COVID virus out there. If everyone in your family won’t get vaccinated, it’s important to make sure at least one adult family member does so that someone will be able to care for family members who may get sick. There are no true medical contraindications for the flu vaccine, so it’s generally a safe vaccine. There are some who might have an egg allergy, and that’s something you can discuss with your PCP before getting the shot.

Have you heard anything about this year’s flu strain?

I actually just got my flu vaccine, and many patients were asking about this. We just haven’t had enough cases yet this year to determine the efficacy of this year’s vaccine. But, if people get the flu shot, and continue to wear a mask when out in public and follow other COVID precautions, our flu season might be a lot better this year than in previous years.

Where can people get a flu shot?

For patients at Scarsdale Medical Group, there are two convenient ways to get the flu shot. First, you can make an appointment with your physician and get the shot at the time of your visit. Or, we have a pediatric patient flu tent located at our offices at 600 Mamaroneck Road, and we have an adult flu tent at 259 Heathcote Road. Patients can make an appointment for one of our flu tents by calling (914) 723-8100.

Should children get a flu shot? At what age? What about pregnant woman?

The CDC recommends that children get a flu vaccine every year in the fall, starting at 6 months old. Some children 6 months through 8 years of age may need 2 doses for best protection. I’d advise that parents consult with their pediatrician on what age to start getting regular flu shots for their children. All pregnant women should be vaccinated for the flu, even if they had a flu shot the previous year. It’s safe, there are no contraindications for pregnant women, and it will protect them from experiencing high fevers that can be dangerous during pregnancy, or from getting pneumonia.

Should those who do get the shot expect to experience side effects?WhitePlainsHospitalSponsorBanner

The most common side effects are mild, and can be pain at injection site, swelling, or redness. These can be managed by using a warm compress or taking Tylenol or Ibuprofen. The flu shot is not a live vaccine, so you won’t get the flu from it.

Why is there a special vaccine for people 65 and over? What’s different about it?

For older people whose have a decreased immune system, there is a higher dose vaccine which is essentially just 2/10ths of a cc more than the regular vaccine. This is to boost their immune response to the flu.

If you already had coronavirus, do you need a flu vaccine this year?

Yes, definitely. Coronavirus, or COVID-19, is a different virus from the flu virus, so having had coronavirus doesn’t mean you won’t get the flu. Plus, the flu vaccine has been shown to reduce the likelihood of severe symptoms by about 50%, so it’s important to protect yourself and your family.

If you do have symptoms, how can you distinguish between the flu and the corona virus?

Flu symptoms are usually more acute—you wake up one morning and feel awful and have a fever. Coronavirus is usually more subtle at first and can include mild symptoms like a runny nose and body aches. The best way to know if it’s flu or coronavirus is to speak to your physician and get either a flu or COVID swab.

Tell us about yourself - what is your area of specialty, how long have you been at the Scarsdale Medical Group and what do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I’ve been with Scarsdale Medical Group for about 6 years and am an internist. I also have a background in emergency medicine and was an ER physician off and on for about 20 years. I also specialize in wound care and hyperbaric medicine. In my spare time I like to cook and eat what I cook. I’m also a fan of automotive shows on TV. Pre-COVID, I really enjoyed traveling and hope to start doing that again in the future.

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