Flu Vaccines

It’s flu season again and time for just about everyone to get a flu shot.

The CDC recommends that everyone, with very few exceptions, ages six months and older get vaccinated against the flu. Because the virus that causes the flu changes from year to year, it is necessary to get a new vaccination every year.

There are several groups of individuals who are at high risk of becoming very sick or possibly dying from the flu. They include: the very young, the very old, and the pregnant woman. If you are in one of those groups, you should definitely get vaccinated. But what if you aren’t in one of those groups? Getting a flu vaccine can help prevent you from getting the flu, which can keep you from missing school, work, etc. Also, if everyone who can get a flu shot does, it decreases the chances of someone who can’t from getting the flu. Those who shouldn’t be vaccinated include children under the age of 6 months, people with a history of Guillan-Barre syndrome, those with a severe allergy to eggs or an allergy to the vaccine, etc.

But you say, “I got a flu shot once, and I got the flu.”

First, the flu shot does not and cannot cause the flu. Flu vaccines are either made from inactivated (killed) virus or just a portion of the virus. Second, it takes a couple of weeks for your body to produce enough antibodies to fight off the virus, so you may have been exposed to the flu virus right around the time you got your vaccine. Third, in order to make a flu vaccine, each year researchers have to make an educated guess as to what the virus is going to look like (remember, it changes from year to year). So, unfortunately, while the vaccine is effective for most people, it’s not 100% effective.

There are several different types of flu vaccines. Some are available as shots and others as a nasal spray. Most people six months of age or older, can get the flu shot. Pregnant women, persons with immune disorders, and some others should not use the nasal spray vaccine. Your doctor can tell you which vaccine is best for you. The import thing is to get vaccinated.

 

Dr. Kevin P. O’Neil

Dr. Kevin O'Neil - Urogynecology

 

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