Nurse Notes


Did you get your flu shot this year?


There are many questions about flu shots. When should I take it? If I did not take it yet, is it too late in the season to get a flu shot? How long does the shot take to work? Do I really need a flu shot since I am not old and do not have any major illnesses? Should I take the chance of getting the flu and not take the vaccine this year since I never get the flu? Can the flu shot give me the flu? Do I need a flu shot every year? If the types of flu in the vaccine is not a match for current circulating flu, will it leave me totally unprotected? Why bother.
Flu shots are recommended for everyone 6 months or older unless there is a medical issue prohibiting flu vaccinations such as an allergy to the vaccine. Pretty much, every year, you need to get that flu shot since the protection wanes or lessens with time and flu viruses can change. Even if the viruses in the vaccine are not closely matched to what is circulating, cross-protection occurs for many people and provide protection from flu related symptoms. Which should I take, the Mist or injection? This year, injections are recommended. Flu season is generally from early October to late May so many get their flu shots during October and November but vaccinations are offered throughout the flu season. Actually, the peak of the flu season starts in January. Since it takes about two weeks to develop enough antibodies to be effective after getting the flu shot, it is time to get ready for possible flu exposure from work, school, travel, and other methods of exposure. There is now evidence persons with influenza breathe the virus out of their mouth and nose in tiny particles that stay suspended in the air for minutes to hours. The person can be contagious one day before symptoms present so a healthy appearing person can still be contagious. The injectable flu vaccine may cause minor side effects lasting a short time such as soreness at injection site, low grade fever, and aches. However, Influenza (flu) can result in minor complications such as sinus infections and ear infections to major complications such as flu triggered inflammation of the heart, brain or muscle tissues. Flu can cause pneumonia, multi-organ failure, and sepsis. If you have a chronic illness such as asthma or heart disease, influenza can make the condition worse. The flu vaccine cannot give you the flu but the flu can kill you. Depending on the year, deaths related to the flu range from approximately 3,000 to 49,000 in the USA. Don’t be a statistic, take your flu shot.


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