It’s fall, and that means we’re headed straight for flu season, and if scientists are right, it’s going to be a very rough flu season indeed. Chances are, you’ve been seeing commercials on TV and little posters at your pharmacy telling you to get a flu shot… but you might have questions. If you’re looking for more information, I can help! Here are 7 things you should know about the flu shot, with information from the CDC website.
The flu virus mutates each season, so you’ll need a new flu shot each season to keep up with the mutations. In short, even if you had a flu shot last season, you’ll need one again this season.
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For decades, pregnant women have been getting the flu shot, and there has never been even one single reported incidence of the vaccine harming an unborn baby. On the other hand, dozens of pregnant women have died of the flu, which could well have been prevented if they had gotten the flu vaccine. How sad! Also, while babies under 6 months of age shouldn’t get the flu vaccine, the CDC recommends that nursing mothers do get the vaccine, to help provide a “cocoon” of flu-free people at home to protect the little one.
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Every dose of the flu vaccine produced in the U.S. is made in eggs, so if you’re allergic to eggs, it’s recommended that you do NOT get a flu shot, especially if your allergy is extreme.
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You’ll definitely want to consult with your child’s pediatrician, because the guidelines for this are confusing, but most children under the age of 9 will need two flu shots a month apart to be protected against the flu. Again, the guidelines are complicated, so be sure to talk to your pediatrician before the shot!
FluMist, the nasal spray flu vaccine, is a great option for people who under 50 years of age and who are otherwise very healthy. The nasal vaccine does contain the live flu virus, but it’s been modified so it won’t spread outside of the nasal cavity and into the chest. I’ll take a few days with a stuffy nose over a shot any day!
Some of my friends have complained that they’ve gotten the flu right after getting their flu shot, and this is definitely possible. The flu vaccine takes about a week to be effective, so if you’ve waited until the middle of flu season to get your shot, you may well have been exposed to the flu before your shot had a chance to take effect. Bummer!
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The authors of a study published this month in the Canadian Medical Association Journal assert that aside from preventing the flu, there’s strong evidence that the flu vaccine also prevents heart attacks. There’s a peak in heart attacks during flu months, and a study of over 16,000 patients shows that the risk of heart attack is much less in those that got a flu shot. Researchers aren’t entirely sure of the connection, but feel it may be because the flu virus may somehow trigger a heart attack, so avoiding the flu may be key in preventing flu-season heart attacks.
Now that you know all about the flu shot, it’s a great time to call your doctor or pharmacy and make an appointment to get eh shot or the mist. Or maybe you still have some questions? If so, ask before you go, because you shouldn’t get the shot unless all of your questions have been answered! Do you have any other information about the flu vaccine to share?
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