Fending Off the Flu Bug

senior flu shot by nurse

It’s flu season. What do you think is the best choice for avoiding the flu?

  1. Don’t go anywhere near another human being. They may have the flu.
  2. Don’t breathe – the flu typically spreads through coughing, sneezing or breathing.
  3. Get your yearly flu shot.

If you chose answer one or two, you are clearly a brave and strong person capable of withstanding anything. But if you chose answer three, you may still be brave and strong, but you’re also extremely practical!

Remember: it’s important to get a flu shot every year because there are new strains of flu virus yearly. In fact, here are three good reasons to get the shot:

  1. If you are 65 years of age or older, or have a chronic condition such as diabetes or heart disease, you need a flu shot every year because there are new strains of flu virus.
  2. The flu can spread even before symptoms appear. Others may give you the flu before they know they have it.
  1. A flu shot also helps protect against complications that can result from the flu, such as pneumonia. (And speaking of, have you talked with your doctor about the pneumonia shot?  Pneumonia can cause infections to your lungs, bloodstream, and brain.)

Along with these reasons for getting a flu shot, you should be aware of a couple of the myths surrounding flu shots:

Myth #1: Getting a flu shot will give you the flu.

This is not true. The flu shot is made in two ways:

  • With flu viruses that have been 'inactivated' (aka not the kind that causes sickness)
  • Without flu viruses

Myth #2: I won’t feel right after getting a flu shot.

While we’re all different, major reactions to a flu shot seem rare. Yet, sometimes you may see:

  • Redness
  • Pain or swelling where the shot was given
  • Low-grade fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches

Myth #3: I missed this year’s dose.

Most often you should think about getting the flu shot by October and as early as July. Still, as long as flu viruses are circulating, immunizations may be offered throughout the flu season, even into January or later.  Ask your doctor when you should plan for yours.

Who should NOT get a flu shot?

While the list of reasons for not getting a flu shot is short, it is well worth considering. The Center for Disease Control (CDC), points out issues you should talk with your doctor about before getting a flu shot:

  • If you have an allergy to eggs.
  • If you have an allergy to any of the ingredients in the flu vaccine.
  • If you ever had Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS).

Lastly, people who are 65 or older should not get the intradermal flu shot or the jet injector flu vaccine.

Most recent update: 1/4/2018

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  • Please don't spam me with flu shot emails!  I've had a flu shot, 3 months ago, thanks.  Yes, you should get one if you haven't, but the time to get them (and your not so welcome spam) is in the fall, before flu season, not in the spring, after everyone that's getting one has gotten one, and when the flu season is near the end.  PLEASE for the of GOD, don't do this again.  

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