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Protect Yourself From the Flu

For nearly 20 years, hospitals of BJC have been offering free flu shots to everyone in our community, thanks to the funding from The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital. And this year, getting the flu vaccine is more important than ever. By getting the vaccine you will not only protect yourself and the people around you from flu, but you are helping to reduce the strain on healthcare systems in our area responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

As recommended by the CDC, free seasonal flu shots will be available for those age 6-months and older. All vaccines are free of latex and preservatives. Those 65-years and older are eligible to receive a high dose (HD) vaccine while supplies last. If the HD vaccine is not available, the standard dose will be given. 

More important than ever this year

Receiving a flu shot helps keep you and your community healthy. As hospitals and health care providers continue to care for patients with COVID-19, it's even more important that we work together to reduce the number of flu cases this season. Thanks for doing your part by getting a flu shot.

Free flu shots

Additional details about these and other events coming soon. Check back for updates.

Frequently Asked Questions About Flu Shots

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The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that individuals 6 months and older be vaccinated each year.

Influenza vaccination is recommended for all children age 6-months and older. At all Barnes-Jewish Hospital free flu shot clinics, the following apply:

  • All children 17-years and under must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. A grandparent can bring the child with a written consent from a parent.
  • If this is the first year your child is receiving the flu vaccine and he/she is 6-months through 8-years of age, then a second follow-up vaccine is required four weeks after the first dose for maximum effectiveness. Only the first dose will be given at these clinics, so you will need to see your primary health care provider for the follow-up vaccine.
  • If your child is 6-months through 8-years of age and received 2 or more doses of flu vaccine prior to July 1, 2019, then only one dose of vaccine is needed this season.

Although the elderly, the very young and those with chronic illness may be more susceptible to the deadlier effects of the flu, everyone is at risk of the dangerous effects of the flu. Every year, even previously healthy adults end up in the hospital, and in the intensive care unit, unable to breathe on their own.

In addition to protecting yourself from getting the flu, getting vaccinated decreases the spread of disease for everyone. Approximately 20%-30% of people carrying the influenza virus have no symptoms. Even if you think you aren’t at risk, you could be spreading the illness to someone at high risk of complications from the flu.

No. The flu shot is made from an inactivated virus that can't transmit infection. So people who get sick after receiving a flu vaccination were going to get sick anyway. It takes two weeks to get protection from the vaccine. But people assume that because they got sick after getting the vaccine, the flu shot caused their illness.

The flu shot can cause minor side effects, such as soreness, redness or swelling on the area of the arm where the injection is made, a low-grade fever and minor aches that may last one to two days. However, almost all people who receive the influenza vaccine have no serious problems as a result of receiving it.

No. The CDC recommends that all women who are pregnant during flu season receive the seasonal flu shot. According to the CDC, influenza is more likely to cause severe illness and death in pregnant women than in non-pregnant women. The effects of the flu virus on a pregnant woman’s immune system, heart and lungs can endanger her life and the life of her unborn child.

Research suggests the flu vaccine is not only safe for expectant moms and their developing babies, but also effective. Pregnant women who get a flu shot get sick less frequently with influenza than those who don't get the vaccine.

Yes. Wearing a mask and social distancing are important to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases – including both COVID-19 and the flu. However, they are not 100% effective. Getting a flu shot is the most powerful defense against flu.

Symptoms for COVID-19 and the flu can be very similar. For instance, it’s common to experience the following symptoms with both: cough, fatigue and fever, and sometimes a runny nose or sore throat. Other symptoms can present differently. Influenza symptoms seem to come on more rapidly all at once, and COVID symptoms sometimes start more mild and then get worse. Also sometimes, people with COVID-19 experience loss of taste or smell, but that symptom is not associated with the flu.

We don’t yet have enough experience with COVID-19 to know how common co-infection with influenza may be or what kind of illness that would cause.  Since both viruses can cause breathing problems, it makes sense that having both together may make those problems worse. 

The most important thing to do if you feel sick is to stay home an reduce your exposure to other people. If there are other people in your household, try to isolate yourself from others and make sure everybody wears a mask if it’s necessary to be in the same room. Get plenty of rest and drink fluids. There are some over the county medications that can reduce flu symptoms. Call your doctor or visit a testing location to receive a COVID-19 or flu test. The health department If you are having trouble breathing, or controlling your symptoms at home, seek immediate medical attention.

For more specific information about the flu and flu shots, we recommend the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as the best single source of information.

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