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Should I Get a Flu Vaccine?

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Who Should Get the Flu Shot

Anyone can get a flu shot, but certain people are more at risk of getting complications from the flu and should get one. These include diabetics, those with heart or lung disease, anyone with a chronic illness, children under the age of 2, the elderly, those with neurological disorders, and anyone that is a family member of any of the above.

Healthcare providers should also get the flu vaccine. This includes not only doctors and nurses, but anyone that is in close contact with the sick.

It has been shown that pregnant women should get a flu shot. Those that are in the second and third trimester will pass on an immunity to the baby for their first few months of life.

Some of the complications of the flu are bacterial pneumonia, dehydration, and worsening of other serious problems. I get a sinus infection and ear infection everytime I get the flu and this is a problem children often have. It is estimated that 200,000 people are hospitalized due to the flu each year.* Since 1976 - 2006, 3,000 - 45,000 people have died from the flu each year.* The number varies by the severity of the flu that year. Those at high risk need to get the vaccine.

When Should You Get a Flu Shot?

September and October are the best time to get the shot. We often think that flu season doesn't start until later, but some years it does start earlier. It also takes about 2 weeks for you to build up an immunity to the flu and you don't want to be exposed unprotected.

The vaccine is good for the entire flu season, but needs to be repeated every year. The protection weakens as time goes on.

Does the Flu Shot Cover Everything?

Every season Types A, Type B, and Type B Seasonal flues are expected to surface. These are covered in the shot every year. Sadly, the shot can not protect us against everything. A different flu may spread, but drug companies can only guess which flu will arrive every year. Flu shots don't cover colds either. Good hygiene on our part needs to be practiced to keep the flu from spreading.

The Swine Flu is expected to resurface this year and for several more years. The disease is expected to mutate for several years, so you may also be inoculated for this.

Different Types of Vaccines

There are 3 different types of shots and each is used for different people. The shots are regular, intradermal and high dose. There is also a nasal vaccine. Different types are better for different people for different reasons. Trust the advice of your primary care physician.

Regular dose can be used on anyone over 6 months of age. These shots are often used for the elderly, children under the age of 2 years, people that have cardiac disease and healthcare providers.

The high dose vaccine seems to work best for patients over 65. The high dose is more expensive and it is still under study whether it does work better. You may decide to opt out of this if you don't want to pay the higher cost.

The intradermal vaccine is given with a smaller needle. It doesn't enter into muscle tissue like most shots, but just through the layers of the skin. It uses a smaller dose, but still works as well as the higher doses. This injection is only used if you are between 18 and 64 years of age.There is no other reason other age groups can't use this, except it hasn't been tested and approved by the FDA for any other age group yet.

The vaccine can be administered as a nasal spray for people ages 2-49. They must be healthy and not pregnant. Different people can't use this type because it is a live virus. This type may be the best choice for children, because it is believed it may work better because it is used in the nasal are where most viruses are introduced into our systems. The live virus may also cause a better immunity to be built up. The real reasons it seems to work better are unknown.

Flu Shot Side Effects

After getting the vaccination, you may get what seems like a very mild case of the flu. The symptoms are mild and usually just involve having a little bit of an achy feeling.

You might look at this as a bad thing, but it is actually good. It means your immune system is building up a resistance to the flu.

If you seem to be getting a severe reaction which is rare, call your doctor. In very rare cases someone can be allergic to the vaccine.

Flu shots are inexpensive and take little time to receive. Everyone at high risk should have one to avoid being ill and especially to avoid the complications that can occur with the flu.

*Referenced from the US Government Flu site

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