Flu Season Has Arrived
What you need to know about getting a flu shot
Published: Monday, October 22, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 22, 2012 15:10
With the arrival of colder temperatures, harsher winds and wetter air, the season of the flu has made its entrance. As many make their traditional annual trip to the doctor’s office to get the flu shot, others are more wary of the injection or simply may not fully understand its advantages.
What is the flu shot?
WebMD.com doctors define the traditional flu shot as “an injection into the muscle that contains flu-virus particles that stimulate anti-flu immunity, but which cannot cause the flu.” In short, you are essentially being injected with a dormant flu virus to help combat invading malignant flu symptoms. For people ages 18-64, there is also the option of getting an intradermal flu shot, which is the same as a traditional flu shot but is only injected skin deep rather than into your muscle. Nasal-spray flu vaccines have also been approved, and more information can be found on the WebMD website.
Who should get the flu shot?
Various factors play into who should get the flu shot, such as age, career type and people with other medical conditions. Children who are six months to 18 years old and people over the age of 50 should get the flu shot. Workers in hospitals, nursing homes, childcare centers and homes of children under age five should also be vaccinated. If you have medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes or other heart, lung and immune system diseases, consult with your doctor before getting the flu shot. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention also suggests that people with allergies to eggs should not get vaccinated, due to the fact that “the influenza vaccine is grown in eggs.”
When should I get the flu shot?
“Flu season” falls between the months of October and May, so typically the best time to get the shot is in early October, or even September. However, getting the shot in December or January can still help decrease your chances of contracting the flu since it lasts throughout the majority of the spring season. Keep in mind that you should allow two weeks before you expect to see the results of your flu immunization.
How does the flu shot affect my body?
It is rare for people to experience serious side effects after receiving a flu shot. However, minor side effects do exist that you should be aware of. Swelling or soreness in your arm, common cold symptoms and subdued fever are the most customary byproducts of the flu vaccine. Doctor of Medicine Michael Smith assures patients that “the benefits of getting a flu shot far outweigh the risk of flu shot side effects.”