While many people associate the flu with cold weather, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting a shot as soon as the vaccine becomes available. It is really never too early – or too late – to get vaccinated.

The timing of flu is very unpredictable and can vary from season to season.

Flu activity most commonly peaks in the U.S. in January or February. However, seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and continue to occur as late as May.

“It takes about two weeks for the protection to kick in after a flu shot is administered. While it may seem like the sooner the better, the greatest benefit of getting vaccinated now may be peace of mind,” said Primary Care Director Nicholas Masozera, M.D.

Free flu shots are now available for Veterans, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston and its outpatient clinics in Beaumont, Conroe, Galveston, Lake Jackson, Lufkin, Richmond, and Texas City.

In Houston, patients should report to their Primary Care Clinic:

  • Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, 2002 Holcombe Blvd., Houston, TX 77030

At the outpatient clinics, go to the check-in desk:

  • Beaumont VA Outpatient Clinic, 3420 Veterans Circle, Beaumont, TX 77707
  • Conroe VA Outpatient Clinic, 800 Riverwood Ct, Ste 100, Conroe, TX 77304
  • Galveston VA Outpatient Clinic, 3828 Avenue N, Galveston, TX 77550
  • Lake Jackson VA Outpatient Clinic, 208 South Oak Drive, Suites 700 & 800, Lake Jackson, TX 77566
  • Charles Wilson VA Outpatient Clinic, 2206 North John Redditt Drive, Lufkin, TX 75904-1776
  • Richmond VA Outpatient Clinic, 22001 Southwest Freeway, Suite 200, Richmond, TX 77469
  • Texas City VA Outpatient Clinic, 9300 Emmett F. Lowry Expressway, Suite 206, Texas City, TX 77591

Flu shots do not cause flu illness. The influenza viruses contained in a flu shot are inactivated (killed), which means they cannot cause infection. Flu vaccine manufacturers kill the viruses used in the vaccine during the process of making vaccine, and batches of flu vaccine are tested to make sure they are safe.

In randomized, blind studies, where some people get flu shots and others get salt-water shots, the only differences in symptoms was increased soreness in the arm and redness at the injection site among people who got the flu shot. There were no differences in terms of body aches, fever, cough, runny nose, or sore throat.

For more information about influenza and the flu vaccine, contact the Preventive Medicine Program at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center at 713-794-8768 or visit the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov/flu.

And remember, it is important for everyone use good hygiene practices to prevent the spread of disease. Wash your hands frequently.

DeBakey, Clinics Offering Free Flu Shots for Veterans  was originally published on news92fm.com

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