By Cassie Rasmussen, DO
It’s that time of year again! Time to receive your influenza vaccination or “flu shot”. Influenza is a highly contagious virus that spreads around the country usually between October and May. Symptoms of the flu come on suddenly and consist of fevers, chills, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, cough, headache and nasal congestion. One of the top ways to prevent contracting influenza is by receiving your yearly vaccination.
Flu viruses are frequently changing. Each year’s influenza vaccine protects against the 3 or 4 most common flu viruses expected for the year. Children six months through eight years of age should receive two doses of the vaccine, at least one month apart, the first year they get vaccinated. All other people only need to receive one dose each year. A “high dose” influenza vaccine is available for people 65 years of age and older.
There are three types of influenza vaccine available. Firstly is the inactivated flu vaccine, which is the “flu shot”. This contains an inactivated flu vaccine therefore does not contact any live influenza virus. A common misconception about the flu shot is that people get “the flu” from the flu shot however with an inactivated virus, getting the flu from this vaccine is not possible. A different, live, weakened, influenza vaccine is sprayed into the nostrils. This second vaccine may be given to people 2 through 49 years of age, whom are not pregnant. A third type of vaccine is available to those who have an egg allergy.
Each year thousands of people in the United States die from the flu and many more are hospitalized. Therefore it is important to receive your yearly influenza vaccination to protect yourself and loved ones. The flu vaccine is the best protection that we have from contracting the flu and its complications. So please get yourself vaccinated against influenza this season. Vaccines are now available. Also while you are receiving your flu shot, ask if you are eligible for pneumovax.
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