Archive for September, 2019

When to Get a Flu Shot

smiling pharmacist gives flu shot

It may be your best chance at preventing the flu—but do you know the best time to get your flu shot?

If you get it too soon, you might not be as well protected. But since it typically takes your body 2 weeks from the time you get the shot to develop immunity, you don’t want to wait too late.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu season usually runs from November through the end of April, so it’s best to get the flu shot as early as possible prior to the season. October is a recommended time frame.

According to the CDC, the timing, severity, and length of the season can vary from one season to another. Influenza activity often begins to increase in October and November. Most of the time, flu activity peaks between December and February, and it can last as late as May.

Who Needs a Flu Shot?

Everyone’s at risk of being infected with the influenza virus and can spread it to others. That’s why the CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated against it every year, even if you’ve never had the flu.

If you have a less-developed or compromised immune system, a yearly vaccination is especially important (even critical). Not only are you more likely to get the flu, your body will have a harder time fighting it off or enduring the symptoms should you be infected with the virus. The flu can hit people hard, turn to pneumonia, and cause other medical issues.

Flu shots are recommended for almost everyone 6 months and older, but are especially important for:

  • Adults age 65 and over
  • Kids age 6 months to 5 years
  • People with long-term health conditions (asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart or lung disease, HIV, cancer, and more)
  • Transplant recipients
  • Pregnant women

Even the healthiest of people should be vaccinated. If you aren’t convinced you need to protect yourself, consider the need to protect your family, friends, co-workers — even strangers. Some professionals, such as health care personnel, early education childcare workers, and school personnel, are even required to be vaccinated in order to be employed. Should you get the flu, everyone around you is at risk and some won’t be as equipped to fight off the virus as you are.

What’s In the Flu Vaccine?

Many people fear getting a flu shot can actually give them the flu, and some claim to have actually contracted the virus from the vaccination itself. But it simply isn’t possible —the flu vaccine is made of dead flu viruses. Since they’re dead, you can’t catch the flu from them. The flu vaccination can, however, cause side effects like headache, nausea, fever and muscle ache. Since these side effects mimic flu symptoms, people often mistake them for having the flu. But when you have the flu, you’ll know it — your symptoms will be much more severe and longer-lasting.

These dead viruses teach our bodies what the flu looks like — so it learns, over time, to fight the illness. This is a process and can take up to 2 weeks for your body to be able to fight it. So, timing your flu shot is important.

When we talk about the flu vaccine, we usually refer to it as “the flu shot.” But in reality, it is also available as a nasal spray, although there is some concern that it isn’t as effective as the shot. Also, if you’re considered high risk for the flu, there is also a high-dosage version of the flu shot available. This offers stronger protection and is usually recommended for those age 65 and older.

Emory Healthcare

At Emory Healthcare, we’re here to help you find the care you need when you need it. With more than 2,800 doctors and 300 locations, including 11 hospitals, as well as primary care offices, urgent cares and MinuteClinics, we’re delivering specialized care across the region. Find a doctor near you to help you get and stay healthy.

Emory HealthConnection is where registered nurses can help you find a location or specialist that’s right for you. Call 404-778-7777 from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST (M-F).

Know Where to Go

Knowing where to go when you’re ill makes a big difference. But it can get confusing. Know where to go to get the right care at the right time. Your primary care doctor knows your medical history best, but the Emory Healthcare Network also includes Peachtree Immediate Care Urgent Care and CVS MinuteClinics, hundreds of primary care locations and 6 ERs throughout metro Atlanta. Get the care you need wherever you need it. See our map to find the locations closest to you.

Related Resources

Poisonous Plants: How to Avoid Them and Treat Rashes from Them

woman with rash from poisonous plant

We all want to enjoy our time outdoors: hiking trips, taking a bike ride through the woods or getting our gardens ready. All of these activities are great, just remember to avoid the poisonous plants around you. It only takes a little sap to be zapped by a poisonous plant.

There are a variety of poisonous plants that you may come into contact with, such as poison ivy, poison oak or poison sumac. We want to give you some helpful tips to protect yourself and your loved ones when encountering any poisonous plants. Know where to go and how to treat the itchy rash and irritation some plants may cause.

How You Get Rashes from Poisonous Plants

Ever wonder how you got a rash from touching such a small plant? Each of the poisonous plants above secretes urushiol oil onto its roots, stem, and leaves. Once in contact with the skin, this oil often causes a combination of mild to severe rash*, itching, and blisters.

Each person has a different level of sensitivity to the urushiol oil and touching it more than once can also increase the chances of dealing with a more severe rash. Physical contact is not the only way to get this rash. Burning these plants could result in the oil spreading through the air and coating the soot. This coating could come into contact with your skin, but also areas that aren’t typically touched by the sap (eyes, nostrils, throat, or even inhalation into the respiratory system).

*These rashes are not contagious and cannot be spread person-to-person. While the oil will stay on any surfaces it has come into contact with (unless washed with water or rubbing alcohol), simply touching someone else’s rash will not cause you to get infected as well.

What Poisonous Plants Look Like

In the southeastern United States, poison ivy, poison oak or poison sumac all grow in the area. The best way to avoid getting the rash and blisters is not touching the plant.

poison ivyPoison Ivy: Each leaf on poison ivy has three leaflets that appear glossy. The edges of these leaves can be either smooth or toothed. Furthermore, these leaves can also appear as different in color when in different seasons. During the spring, the leaves appear reddish in color, and during the summer the leaves are green. The leaves are even present during autumn and can be yellow, red, or orange. Also, poison ivy can grow as a vine or shrub that appears to trail the ground, or climb low plants, trees or poles.


poison oakPoison Oak: The leaves appear fuzzy and green and grow in groups of three. These leaves are deeply toothed with rounded tips. The plants typically grow as a low shrub; however, on the Pacific Coast, they have been known to grow in tall clumps or long vines.



poison sumacPoison Sumac: This poisonous plant grows as a small shrub in bogs or swamps. These leaves have clusters of seven to 13 smooth-edged leaflets growing along the stem. Like poison ivy, these leaves can appear different in color depending on the season. During the spring, the leaves are orange, but during the summer they are green. These plants are also present in the fall and can be yellow, orange, or red at that point.



How to Treat Rashes from Poisonous Plants

After a few weeks, the effects of poison ivy will subside without any treatment. During that time, do not scratch the blisters as this could lead to infection. So, how do you calm the itching without scratching? Applying wet compresses or submerging the afflicted area in cool water can help. You can also get prescription oral corticosteroids or over-the-counter topical corticosteroids to alleviate that itching feeling. You may want to see a health care professional if you observe any of the following symptoms:

  • You have a temperature over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • There is pus, soft yellow scabs, or tenderness on the rash.
  • The itching gets worse or keeps you awake at night.
  • The rash spreads to your eyes, mouth, genital area, or covers more than one-fourth of your skin area.
  • The rash is not improving within a few weeks.
  • The rash is widespread and severe.
  • You have difficulty breathing.

Depending on the severity of your symptoms, we recommend either visiting your nearest Peachtree Immediate Care urgent care location or MinuteClinic.

If you aren’t experiencing any severe pain, a MinuteClinic can be a good alternative to visit in order to help keep the rash down and prevent infection.

However, if you are in pain, going to a local Peachtree Immediate Care can help reduce inflammation and provide access to a medical professional who can treat the infection.

As always, if you feel you are in a life-threatening situation, go to the nearest Emergency Department or call 911. When in doubt, don’t hesitate to call your PCP or the Emory HealthConnection at 404-778-7777 and speak to an Emory nurse for assistance.

Know Where to Go

Knowing where to go when you’re ill or hurt makes a big difference. But it can get confusing. Know where to go to get the right care at the right time. Your primary care doctor knows your medical history best, but the Emory Healthcare Network also includes Peachtree Immediate Care Urgent Care and CVS MinuteClinics, hundreds of primary care locations, and 6 ERs throughout metro Atlanta. Get the care you need wherever you need it. See our map to find the locations closest to you.