Fending Off the Flu Bug

Fending Off the Flu Bug

Lee esto en EspañolIt’s flu season. What do you think is the best way to avoid the flu?

  1. Don’t go anywhere near another human being. They may have the flu.
  2. Don’t breathe. The flu can spread 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 very practical!

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

  1. If you are 65 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. Other people may give you the flu before they know they have it.
  3. 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 to get 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' (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 are 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 your 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’s well worth considering. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention leaving site icon (CDC), points out issues you should talk with your doctor about before getting a flu shot. Let your doctor know if you have:

  • An allergy to eggs
  • An allergy to any of the ingredients in the flu vaccine
  • 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.

Source: Influenzaleaving site icon Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021.
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Originally published 10/25/2016: Revised 2019, 2021