LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Thanks to mask wearing and social distancing efforts, incidences of flu were minimal in 2020. However, experts are concerned we may not be that lucky in 2021. As health care providers prepare to see more flu cases this flu season, Baptist Health Urgent Care centers are ready with the flu vaccine.
There is a possibility we may be entering a flu season with a higher level of susceptibility than usual, according to Matt Browning, MD, Chief Medical Officer for Baptist Health Urgent Care centers. “With mask mandates and social distancing now less prevalent, there still is the possibility of contracting both flu and COVID-19,” Browning explained.
“Also, in a normal season when a person recovers from a seasonal influenza infection, they retain some level of immunity that protects them in the future for a period of time,” Browning explained. “Because there was little flu virus activity last season, adult immunity (especially among those who were not vaccinated last season), will now depend on exposure to viruses two or more seasons earlier.”
Baptist Health Urgent Care centers in Beebe, Benton, Bryant, Cabot, Fort Smith (two locations), Jacksonville, Little Rock (two locations) and North Little Rock now offer the 2021-2022 flu vaccination for the influenza A strains (H3N2 and H1N1), and influenza B strains (Victoria and Yamagata).
- Fluzone Standard Dose Quadrivalent: For ages 6 months and older. (First-time flu shot patients up to age 9 may require two separate doses one month apart.)
- Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent: For ages 65 and older.
“Although a flu vaccination is not a guarantee you won’t get the flu, the vaccine has been shown to reduce the severity if you do catch flu, thus reducing the risk of hospitalization and even death,” Browning explained. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, September and October are the best times to get vaccinated to obtain immunity throughout flu season. “Also important to remember is that it takes two weeks after your shot to achieve full benefit.”
Here are the CDC’s top reasons everyone ages 6 months and older should get a flu shot:
- Being vaccinated decreases your chances of getting flu by more than half.
- Even if you do catch the flu, a vaccination can make symptoms milder.
- Previous years’ flu shots do not count. The virus from previous years may not be the same as this year’s vaccination.
- By being vaccinated, you will slow the spread of flu virus to those around you.
The vaccination is covered by most insurance plans at no cost to the patient. Also, flu vaccines are generally free for anyone with Medicare Part B, employer health insurance or other insurance that conforms to the Affordable Care Act, as well as for many Medicaid beneficiaries. For patients without these forms of insurance, the cost is $30 for the Fluzone Standard Dose Quadrivalent and $75 for the Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent. It’s important to know that because flu and COVID-19 share many of the same symptoms, testing for both illnesses may be necessary, depending on symptoms.
Flu shots are available on a walk-in basis, seven days a week, at any Baptist Health Urgent Care center. For more information about flu or to find a center near you, visit BaptistHealthUrgentCare.net.
About Baptist Health Urgent Care
Baptist Health Urgent Care, with ten locations in Arkansas, is a joint venture between Baptist Health and Urgent Team Family of Urgent Care & Walk-in Centers, one of the largest independent operators of urgent and family care centers in the Southeast. The centers offer a range of healthcare services including treatments for injuries and illnesses, occupational health and wellness care – seven days a week. In addition to walk-ins, patients can plan a same- or next-day visit online with Hold My Spot® or schedule a Telemedicine visit. A Nashville-based company, Urgent Team Family of Centers provides quality and affordable family healthcare at 69 locations under seven brands: For more information, visit BaptistHealthUrgentCare.net.
About Baptist Health
For 100 years, Baptist Health has delivered All Our Best in health care through Christian compassion and innovative services. Baptist Health is Arkansas’ most comprehensive health care organization with more than 250 points of access that include 11 hospitals; urgent care centers; a senior living community; over 100 primary and specialty care clinics; a college with studies in nursing and allied health; a graduate residency program; and access to virtual care anytime, anywhere. It is also the largest private not-for-profit health care organization based in Arkansas, providing care through the support of approximately 11,000 employees, groundbreaking treatments, renowned physicians and community outreach programs. For more information about Baptist Health, visit baptist-health.com, call Baptist Health HealthLine at 1-888-BAPTIST or download the myBaptistHealth app. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.