It’s time for me to make my annual plea for everyone to get their flu shot. In today’s column, I’d like to answer common questions I hear about influenza and the flu shot.
– Can’t I get the flu from the flu shot?
This is a very common myth and proven to be wrong. You cannot catch the flu from the flu vaccine. The flu vaccines that are given by needle are made with viruses that are killed (inactivated), and cannot cause an influenza infection.
– I’ve had the flu shot previously and I got the flu anyhow.
This is possible, but not likely, in that no vaccine is 100 percent effective.
– I’ve never had a flu shot and have never had the flu.
Consider yourself lucky, and as in most cases, one’s luck will usually wear out. Don’t take a chance, this could be the year.
– The flu is no big deal.
Tell that to those who have not survived a bout of influenza, or to the worker who misses a week or more of work, as well as the student missing time from school. Besides, having the flu can make you feel very miserable.
– I worry that it could be harmful to my baby/child to have yet another vaccination.Babies have a higher incidence of death due to influenza. There is no proof that the flu vaccine worsens or changes the effects of the other routine childhood vaccinations. The recommendation is that everyone from six months of age and older should receive the flu vaccine.
– I have already gave a chronic disease and I take lots of medications. Do I really need a flu shot too?
All the more reason to receive a flu shot since the flu is the most deadly for those with chronic medical conditions.
– I have a tremendous fear of getting a shot.
The flu vaccine is available as a nasal spray and is approved for those between the ages of 2 to 49 years of age. It has been proven to be more effective than the shot in children 2 to 8 years of age. The viruses used to develop the nasal spray flu vaccine are alive but weakened (attenuated).
– I’m pregnant, won’t a flu shot harm my baby?
Not only has the flu vaccine injection been proven to be safe during pregnancy, but is highly recommended for pregnant women in any trimester of pregnancy. Only the injection form of flu vaccine and not the nasal spray should be used in pregnancy.
– I’m 35 years old and healthy, do I really need a flu shot?
In 2009-10, the swine flu (H1N1 virus) took a particularly heavy toll on the age group 18 to 64 years of age. Better safe than sorry.
– Any reason I absolutely shouldn’t get a flu shot?
There are a few reasons, the most common being a prior allergic reaction to a flu shot or a severe allergy to eggs. The vaccine should be delayed if you have an illness with a fever.
– When should I get the shot?
The flu season typically begins as early as October and can last until late spring. Flu shots are currently available and I advise getting it sooner rather than later. It takes about two weeks after receiving the shot for it to become effective.
– Where can I get a flu shot?
Most major pharmacies such as Rite Aid, Walgreens and CVS, provide flu shots on a drop- in basis, as well as through most primary care doctor’s offices. Larger medical groups such as mine, the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, will have special drop in flu clinic days. For children, call your child’s primary care provider to find out how they are to receive a flu vaccination.
– How much will a flu shot cost me?
For most people it is free, either because they have a government insurance plan such as MediCare or MediCruz, or they have private insurance. For those who have no such coverage, the out-of-pocket cost of flu vaccine is between $30 to $50 depending on which vaccine is given.