Don’t Wait for Flu Season to Get Your Flu Shot

October 01, 2020

This year, it’s more important than ever that you protect yourself and your family from the flu, which can be serious and even deadly. Health care providers like AltaMed and other public health agencies are trying to prevent a twindemic: cases of the flu and COVID-19 spiking at the same time, which could put a strain on hospitals and result in many more people being sick.

We’ve compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions to help you learn more about why you and your entire family need to get your shots.

I’m Usually Healthy! Do I Need to Get a Vaccine?

All the vitamin supplements in the world won’t protect you from the flu. Why risk four to six days of high fever, sore throat, body aches, and other symptoms that will limit your ability to go to work or attend school? If you do get the flu even after receiving the vaccine, the shot can help you avoid more severe complications such as pneumonia, ear infections, or sinusitis.

It’s also critical for those in regular contact with children under the age of 6 months and those with chronic illness to get vaccinated to reduce the household's risk of illness.

Won’t Getting a Flu Shot Make Me Sick?

Section 1The vaccine does not infect a person with influenza. The vaccine works by helping your body’s immune system recognize the virus so that it can create a defense (antibodies) that will fight the flu.

If I Have a Cold, Can I Still Get a Flu Shot?

A cold can’t stop you from getting your flu shot! However, your primary care provider won’t give you the vaccine if you have a high fever and are experiencing respiratory symptoms. Your immune system won’t be strong enough to create the antibodies it needs to protect you against the flu.

Will the Flu Shot Protect Me from COVID-19?

The flu vaccine won’t protect you against colds, pneumonia, or COVID-19.

The flu is not a severe cold or pneumonia, even though symptoms can be similar – in fact, it can also be hard to tell the difference between COVID-19, allergies, and the flu.

When you ask your health care provider for a flu shot, you will get vaccine the protects you from the influenza virus.

I Saw a Facebook Post that Said that COVID-19 Germs Have Been Added to this Year’s Flu Vaccine. Is that True?

Absolutely not. This year’s flu vaccine contains only the inactivated strains of influenza that are expected to be most prevalent this flu season. It does not have the COVID‐19 virus. Be careful where you get your news about COVID-19 and the flu!

How Soon Should I Get My Flu Shot?

Section 2ASAP! The flu vaccine will not prevent COVID-19, but we are trying to prevent a large flu outbreak while we still don’t have the pandemic fully under control. Also, having the flu could weaken your respiratory system, which could put you at additional risk for COVID-19 – though, we want to be perfectly clear: the flu vaccine will not protect you from COVID-19.

You can make an appointment to get your flu shot at AltaMed. We have many procedures in place to keep staff and patients safe. There are also many other places to get your flu shot.

And here’s some good news: wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and all of the other actions we’ve been taking to stop the spread of COVID_19 will help to keep you safe from the flu.

Is It Possible to Have the Flu and COVID-19 at the Same Time?

section 3Yes, it is. Even though we still don’t have a vaccine for COVID-19, you can get a safe, effective flu shot right now,

What about Side Effects from a Flu Shot?

The most common side effects are soreness around the injection area, redness, nausea, and muscle aches, which usually pass in a couple of days. Children may be scared of getting a shot, but it’s very important for them to receive their immunizations – one pinch and it’s done!

Why Does the Vaccine Change from Year to Year?

The vaccine changes every year because the virus changes every year. This makes it difficult for our body to detect the virus in time, and we end up getting sick. Thanks to technology and the study of viruses, scientists can try to predict what the virus will look like for the upcoming flu season.

Sometimes the virus changes too quickly and the rate of protection can be lower than expected. It has been proven year after year that the vaccine is a great tool to prevent complications and even reduce mortality rates in all age groups.

Get Your Free Shots at AltaMed!

Section 4Get vaccinated today against the virus at your nearest AltaMed medical center to protect yourself and your family. To schedule a flu shot, please call (888) 499-9303. See hours and locations for clinics near you.

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Extending Telehealth Services Past the Pandemic a Priority for AltaMed

May 08, 2020

AltaMed began offering telephone and video visits during the pandemic as a way to keep our members safe while continuing to meet their health needs. Insurance will continue to cover those visits throughout the pandemic.

AltaMed is advocating for that coverage to extend beyond the pandemic to serve the needs of those who would rather receive service from the comfort and safety of their homes.

Please review these guidelines to make sure you are getting the most from your telephone or video visits.

What Is Telehealth?

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Using either a cell phone, landline, a tablet, or a laptop, you can talk to an AltaMed doctor over the phone or through video. You can discuss the same kind of things you would at a regular doctor visit, including your symptoms and concerns. You may also be able to get an immediate diagnosis, learn about your treatment options, and even get a prescription if your doctor thinks it’s appropriate.

If you are experiencing a significant loss of blood, breathing problems, fainting or loss of consciousness, a broken bone, or a head or spinal injury, call 911 now! These problems require immediate attention. Check here if you’re not sure if it’s an emergency or not.

Conditions That Can Be Treated Over the Phone

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Telehealth visits are a good option for many routine health needs – the type of things you’d make an appointment to see your family doctor for, such as:

You can also use telehealth visits to help you manage chronic, or ongoing, conditions, such as:

Eligible patients may be able to have a phone appointment with a dietician or a screening with a dental specialist for dental emergencies.

Be Prepared to Talk About Your Health History

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Because your doctor isn’t able to do a hands-on examination, you should be prepared to give them as much information as you can and describe your symptoms. Your appointment may not be with your usual doctor, so you may need to help the doctor understand your health history.

Be ready to tell your doctor about:

  • Prior or existing conditions (e.g., asthma, diabetes, depression, breast cancer)
  • Previous surgeries
  • If you’re taking prescription or over-the-counter medication
  • If you are currently under the care of another doctor

Make Sure You Can Give Information About Your Health Concern

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Your doctor can only help you if he understands your concerns. You can help!

Before your visit, write down information about your condition. Think about questions like:

  • Where is your pain or discomfort?
  • What is the pain like – sharp, stabbing, dull?
  • How long have you felt like this?
  • Can you trace your problem back to a certain event – for example, if you came in contact with an allergen, started feeling bad after you ate something, or lifted something heavy?
  • Are there times when it’s better or worse?
  • Have you taken any over-the-counter treatments? If so, what kind and for how long? Did they make you feel better?

Find a Quiet, Private Place to Take the Call

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A provider will call you within one-hour of the appointment time or may call you sooner than the appointment time. You may only have a limited amount of time, so make the most of it by finding a spot at home where you can talk freely and without distractions.

Even though your doctor can’t examine you the way they would in an AltaMed facility, they will do their best to find out about your condition. Make sure to wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing, in case they ask you to roll up a sleeve, turn to the side so they can watch you breathe, or give you other instructions.

You’ll be able to talk with a doctor who speaks your language, but it’s important that you understand what they’re saying. Our doctors want to help, so feel free to tell them, “I don’t really understand what you mean” or ask them to explain things more than once.

After the visit, you can get notes and a summary of the visit at your MyAltaMed patient portal, or if you have not registered for access to MyAltaMed, a paper copy will be mailed to you.

If you need a prescription medicine, we’ll make sure it’s sent over to the pharmacy of your choice.

Need Care? Call Us First!

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No matter what your health care needs, we’re here to make sure they get handled. Call our Patient Service Center at (888) 499-9303 and we’ll direct you to the right services.