Getting the flu shot is the best decision you can make to help protect you and your loved ones this season. Flu activity is usually the highest during February, so get your flu shot today.
October marks the beginning of the flu season – which means, time to get your yearly flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that each year more than 200,000 people in the United States are hospitalized due to complications from the flu.
Why do I need to get a flu shot each year?
You might be wondering why you need to get a flu shot every year. After all, other vaccines don’t work that way. Each year, a different flu vaccine is created to protect against the main influenza viruses that research suggests are going to be the most common during the upcoming season. Since these viruses can change from year to year, it is important to get vaccinated each year.
Who should get a flu shot every year?
Everyone who is six months or older should receive a yearly flu vaccine. People who are at the highest risk for getting the flu are the elderly, the young, pregnant women, and people with certain health conditions such as asthma, COPD, diabetes, kidney disorders, or a weakened immune system. The flu shot can safely be given to pregnant women, and there is now an egg-free vaccine available for those who are allergic to eggs.
I’m over the age of 65. What is the “High-Dose” vaccine?
Fluzone High-Dose is an influenza vaccine manufactured specifically for people aged 65 and older. It contains four times the amount of antigen (the part of the vaccine that prompts the body to build immunity) contained in regular flu shots. This is meant to create a stronger immune response, since human immune defenses become weaker with age. Additionally aging decreases the body’s ability to have a good immune response, and a higher dose of vaccine should provide better protection against the flu.
Can the flu shot make me sick?
The flu vaccine is safe and does not cause the flu. Side effects from the flu shot can make you feel sick and include chills, fatigue, headache, body pain, and nausea. These can all happen because your body is responding to the vaccine. Your body is learning how to recognize and fight off the particular strains of influenza in the vaccine. It takes two weeks for the vaccine to fully take effect, and it is possible to catch the flu during this period of time.
It is also possible to still get the flu even after you have had your vaccination. This can happen when you become sick from a virus strain that was not included in the flu shot or your body did not build full immunity when you received the flu vaccine.
Regardless, getting the flu shot is the best decision you can make to help protect you and your loved ones this season. Antibodies made by our bodies in response to vaccination can even provide protection against different but related flu viruses.
For more information visit www.cdc.gov/flu.
Mackenzie Horning, PharmD