Fending Off the Flu Bug

Fending Off the Flu Bug

flu shot by nurseIt’s flu season. Is getting a flu shot the best choice for dodging the flu?  The truth is, sometimes fighting people’s thoughts about the flu is as hard as fighting the flu itself.

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.

Top Three Reasons to Get Your Flu 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.
  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.)

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.


Originally published 10/25/2016: Revised 2019