Intro – Get a Flu Shot!
Flu season looms! Get your flu shot before the end of October to protect yourself and others throughout the season that can last until next May. If you don’t have time to read the rest of this blog post, STOP READING! Just go get your flu shot. Kathy’s Urgent Care in Wethersfield and Rocky Hill, CT. No appointment necessary.
Who Should Get a Flu Shot?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), everyone over the age of 6 months should get a flu shot.
· Pregnant women are especially at risk and should be vaccinated. The flu vaccine also protects their unborn fetus from the flu—an especially important consideration, since children younger than 6 months should not receive a flu shot.
o The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) stated in September, “Influenza vaccination is an essential element of prenatal care because pregnant women are at an increased risk of serious illness and mortality due to influenza. In addition, maternal vaccination is the most effective strategy to protect newborns because the vaccine is not approved for use in infants younger than six months.”
· Children from 6 months to 18 years of age should get a flu shot. Children who receive their first vaccination will require two shots, 28 days apart. The CDC recommends against receiving a nasal spray vaccination.
· Persons 65 years of age and older usually have weaker immune systems and should get a high-dose shot that protects against 4 strains of flu virus. They should also get a pneumococcal vaccination to protect against serious strains of pneumonia, since the elderly account for 85% of deaths due to flu and complications from pneumonia.
· Anyone with a compromised immune system is especially at risk for the flu and should be vaccinated.
Note: Persons who are allergic to any component of the vaccine (for example, eggs), who had a severe allergic reaction to the vaccine in the past, who have had Guillain-Barré Syndrome (also called GBS), or who are not feeling well should discuss with their health provider whether they should receive the flu vaccine or what type of vaccine might be appropriate for them.
When Should You Get a Flu Shot?
For the 2017-18 flu season, the answer is simple: NOW! It is impossible to predict just when a flu epidemic will begin, but there will be one and it is likely to be severe. The vaccine takes 2-3 weeks to become effective. Therefore, the CDC recommends getting your flu shot before the end of October.
What Kind of Flu Shot Should You Get?
There are different types of flu vaccines that have been approved by the FDA for general use. To keep things simple, you should be aware of two main alternatives:
· Most children and adults can get a trivalent shot—one that protects against three major flu viruses.
· Persons 65 and older should get a high-dose, quadrivalent shot—one that protects against an additional flu virus strain and in a higher dose because of their declining immune system.
For more complete answers to this question, please consult the “Frequently Asked Questions” page on the CDC website.
What Are the Side Effects of a Flu Shot?
You cannot get the flu from the flu vaccine. Some people, however, might experience mild side effects that include soreness, redness, or swelling at the injection site. About 1-2% of those receiving a flu shot will experience a low-grade fever.
Rarely, more serious side effects result from an allergic reaction to one of the ingredients in the vaccine. Symptoms can include difficulty breathing, swelling around the eyes or lips, hives, racing heart, dizziness and high fever. If you develop any of these symptoms, seek medical attention.
Remember, you cannot get the flu from a flu shot. Because the vaccine takes 2-3 weeks to become effective, however, you can get the flu after you have had a flu shot. Further, since the vaccine is not effective against all strains of the flu, you can still get the flu from a strain against which you are not immunized. In those cases, your experience of the flu will probably be milder.
More about other questions will appear in a later post. If you have concerns about yourself or a family member getting a flu shot, call us at Kathy’s Urgent Care. We’re here to help.
Authored by Dr. Tom Brown