Don’t delay. Get your flu shot today.
All Immediate Care Centers welcome walk-ins for the annual flu vaccine.
Medical Group of the Carolinas (MGC) primary care practices offer the annual flu vaccine to their established patients by appointment. You may schedule a visit by using MyChart or calling your medical provider.
About the Flu
Most people who get the flu will only develop a mild illness and won’t need medical care or antiviral drugs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, if you are at high risk for flu-related complications then it is best to reach out to a healthcare professional. Those at high risk include young children, adults over 65, pregnant women, people with chronic illnesses and those with weakened immune systems. Contact your primary care provider or, if you don’t have one, visit one of our Immediate Care Centers if you are at high risk for complications and think you have the flu.
What is the flu?
Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that attacks your respiratory system, nose, throat and lungs, causing mild to severe illness depending on additional risk factors.
Who is at risk for the flu?
Everyone is at risk. Those at high risk include young children, adults over 65, pregnant women, people with chronic illnesses and those with weakened immune symptoms. It is important to eat healthy foods, get plenty of rest and wash your hands often to ensure a healthy immune system. Learn about foods that can help your body fight the flu.
What is the difference between cold and flu?
Flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. These two types of illnesses have similar symptoms, and it can be difficult to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. In general, the flu is worse than the common cold. Symptoms such as fever, body aches, extreme tiredness and dry cough are more common and intense with the flu.
Colds are usually milder than the flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Unlike the flu, colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections or hospitalizations. Because of these shared symptoms, it can be difficult - or even impossible - to tell the difference between a cold and the flu. Special tests must be done within the first few days of illness to confirm if a person has the flu.
What is the difference between flu and COVID-19?
COVID-19 and the flu are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by a coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2, while influenza is caused by influenza A and B viruses. View a complete list of signs and symptoms for COVID-19 and flu.
About the flu vaccination
Is the flu shot safe?
Yes. Every year, the flu vaccine protects millions of Americans. The seasonal vaccine is manufactured each year based on surveillance data indicating which strains are circulating. The vaccine triggers the immune system to create a response to the virus.
Can I get the flu from the vaccine?
No. The vaccine is made from inactive viruses and cannot cause flu.
What if the vaccine doesn’t cover all flu strains?
Although the vaccine may not cover the major virus strains each year, the vaccine still provides protection. Those who are vaccinated are less likely to have severe complications if they contract the flu.
Do you offer the nasal vaccination?
No, Medical Group of the Carolinas and Immediate Care Centers are not offering the nasal flu vaccine.
I’ve never had the flu. Why do I need the vaccine?
Even if you don’t have flu symptoms, you might be a carrier and spread the disease to others. Flu strains are constantly changing, so even if you have not had flu in the past, it does not mean you are immune.
Who should get the flu vaccine?
Everyone 6 months of age and older should get the flu vaccine, according to the CDC.
When should I get vaccinated?
It is best for you to receive your vaccine by the end of October, according to the CDC.
Can I get the flu shot and the COVID-19 vaccine at the same visit?
Yes. However, those awaiting test results for COVID-19 cannot get a flu shot. The CDC recommends that anyone with COVID-19 wait at least 10 days after a positive test result before getting the flu shot.
When am I protected from the flu after getting the vaccine?
It takes about two weeks after receiving the vaccine for antibodies to develop.
What if I have allergies or reactions?
Most people can get the flu shot but speak with your primary care physician if you have concerns. People with a history of developing Guillain-Barre syndrome within six weeks of receiving the flu vaccine should not get the shot. Common reactions tend to be mild and last one or two days. Symptoms include a low-grade fever, aches and soreness around the injection site.
Can I get the flu shot if I have a chronic condition (such as diabetes, cancer, etc.)?
Yes. The CDC recommends that adults who are high risk for complications from the flu should receive the flu vaccine each year. The CDC recommends that high-risk groups and their caregivers get an annual shot.
Can I get the flu shot if I’m pregnant or breastfeeding?
Yes. The CDC and The American College of OB/GYN urge all pregnant or breastfeeding women to get the vaccine, in order to protect both mom and baby.
A flu diagnosis, what now?
What should I do if I get the flu?
Most people who get the flu will only develop a mild illness and won’t need medical care or antiviral drugs, according to the CDC.
Simple bed rest with plenty of fluids and over-the-counter pain relievers and medications to manage your symptoms are the best course of treatment for most people who get the flu. Antiviral medications used for influenza only shorten the course of illness by a day or two and are generally only recommended in patients with severe illness or who are at risk for complications. Your doctor will decide whether an antiviral is indicated for you.
Are there medications to treat the flu?
Yes. These antiviral treatments are typically recommended for those with a high risk of complication from the flu. If you receive a flu diagnosis, consult your healthcare provider regarding antiviral treatments.
What if I get worse?
If you or a loved one have the flu, there is no need to go to the emergency room unless you have emergency warning signs of advanced illness, including:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough
In children and infants
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish skin color
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Not waking up or not interacting
- Fever with a rash
- Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
- Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
- Being unable to eat
- Has trouble breathing
- Has no tears when crying
- Significantly fewer wet diapers than normal
How can I protect my friends and family?
Influenza is spread by droplets that travel through the air when you cough, talk or sneeze. Those droplets can be inhaled directly or land on objects and surfaces such as doorknobs, computers or telephones, where germs can linger anywhere from two to eight hours.
Good hygiene, along with good health habits and a little common sense, can help prevent the spread of the flu:
- Wash your hands often or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to protect yourself from germs.
- Avoid touching your face. Germs are often spread when a person first touch something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose or mouth.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. This helps prevent those around you from getting sick. Don’t have a tissue? Cough into the crook of your elbow or upper sleeve to prevent the spread of germs.
- If you are sick, stay home to help prevent others from getting sick. People with the flu can spread it to others who are up to six feet away.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick, too.
- Take care of yourself, get plenty of sleep, manage your stress, eat healthy, exercise daily and drink plenty of liquids.
Though Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System (SRHS) already has restricted visitor guidelines, SRHS further recommends not visiting a hospital if:
- You are pregnant
- You are an elderly adult
- You have lung conditions
- You have a weakened immune system
- You are experiencing flu-like symptoms, including fever, nausea, breathing difficulty and general achiness
Get the flu vaccination
Influenza is a serious disease that can cause hospitalization and sometimes death. Every flu season is different, and influenza affects everyone differently. Even healthy individuals can get very sick from the flu. That is why it is important to protect yourself and those you love by getting vaccinated. The CDC recommends that everyone six months of age and older get vaccinated against the seasonal flu as soon as vaccines for the current season, which runs from October to March, are available. A new flu vaccine is developed every year and is designed to protect against three to four influenza viruses that are expected to be most common during the upcoming season.
Even though the CDC recommends getting the vaccine as early in the season as possible, it is still beneficial anytime, even during peak outbreaks.
Talk to your primary care physician about what is best for you. If you don’t have a primary care physician, search our locations to establish care, visit one of our Immediate Care Centers or use SRHS Virtual Care.
How long can a person with the flu spread the virus to others?
Individuals diagnosed with influenza can be considered potentially contagious if they are experiencing symptoms and up to seven days following the onset of symptoms.
How long can the flu virus live on surfaces?
Some viruses and bacteria can live for two hours or longer on surfaces like tables, doorknobs, light switches and counters. Keep these surfaces clean and wash your hands frequently to reduce the chance of contamination. Learn more about keeping clean during flu season.