- September 18, 2017
- Theresa Brehm, Pharm. D., Pharmacist
- Healthy Living
Believe it or not, the flu season is already upon us. Seasonal influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a highly-contagious respiratory infection with mild to severe symptoms, such as muscle aches, fever, chills, etc. Without proper prevention and treatment, serious outcomes of the flu can result in hospitalization and even death. Even minor cases of the flu can leave you feeling under the weather, causing you to miss work or school. Let’s talk about how you and your family can take a “shot” at avoiding the flu.
Q: Can the flu shot give you the flu?
A: This is one of the most common misconceptions when it comes to the flu vaccine. Let’s clear this up—No. The flu shot will not and simply cannot cause a person to contract the flu because it is an ‘inactivated’ vaccine.
Q: Why do some people report not feeling well after receiving the flu vaccine?
A: There are several reasons why this misconception exists. First, few people, less than 1%, develop ‘flu-like symptoms’- low grade fever, muscle aches, and cold like symptoms- after being vaccinated. This occurs because the immune system is triggered to start building immunity to the flu. Second, full immunity against the flu doesn't develop for 1-2 weeks after vaccination. If you come into contact with the flu virus prior to developing full immunity you can get the flu. Finally, many people confuse influenza with ‘the stomach flu’. The vaccine only covers against certain strains of the respiratory influenza
Q: Do I really need to get vaccinated against the flu every year?
A: Yes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends almost everyone six months of age and older receive the flu vaccination every flu season. A person’s immunity from the flu vaccination will decline over time and the viruses that the vaccine protects against can change from season to season. Receiving the flu shot annually ensures you have optimal protection against the flu.
Q: When should I schedule my vaccination appointment?
A: At any Hartig Drug, with no appointment necessary. The CDC recommends receiving the vaccine as soon as it becomes available. Since it takes about two weeks after vaccination to develop full immunity it is a good idea to receive the vaccine before flu season is in full swing. However, it is never too late to receive the vaccine.
Q: Who should and who should not get the flu shot?
A: The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older receive the flu shot unless they have contraindications or certain precautions. The contraindication is someone who has previously had a serious allergic reaction to the vaccine or one of its ingredients. Precautions include persons with a history of Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a rare paralytic illness also known as GBS and people with a moderate-to-severe illness with a fever. If you have an acute illness, postpone the vaccine until you are feeling better.
Q: What if I already came down with flu this season, what good is a flu shot then?
A: First, unless you were tested and diagnosed with the flu virus, it is possible the symptoms you experienced were maybe something else like the common cold or another respiratory illness. Even if you're certain that it was the flu, this season's flu shot still provides protection against up to three or four different strains of flu virus. It is not too late to lower your chances of getting sick again this season with one of the other strains.
Anyone can tell you, the flu is no fun. The single best way to prevent flu is getting your annual flu shot. If you have additional questions about the flu vaccine, flu prevention or flu treatment, contact your Hartig Drug pharmacist, consult your doctor or visit these resources from the CDC or the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.