Flu season is here. The best way to protect yourself and your family from the misery and dangers of getting the flu is to prevent getting it. The best way to prevent getting the flu is by getting a flu shot.
Who should get a flu shot? According to the CDC a seasonal vaccine is recommended even for a healthy person, the CDC also has a list of people it strongly advises to get shots. People at highest risk for complications from the seasonal flu include: children 6 months to 18 years old; people 65 or older; people living in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities; children 6 months and older and adults with chronic medical conditions, especially those with heart or lung conditions (including asthma); women who are or will be pregnant during the flu season; and finally, people who are at risk of transmitting the flu virus like nursing home caregivers, nurses, physicians, and anyone involved in any kind of health care work (in- or outpatient).
Where are flu shots available? Check with your doctor. Many physicians and clinics are having flu shot clinics on regular schedules this season. If you have health insurance, it usually covers the cost of the flu shot. Some clinics offer free shots, especially to higher risk populations mentioned above. Chain pharmacies, such as CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens also have flu shots available for about $20.
If these options are not available near you, you can find a flu shot location using Flu.gov. This website is simple to use. All you do is type in your zip code into the widget and click “Go”. A list of sites will appear along with a map for your area. You can choose the best site for you.
Flu shots are safe. Most people do not experience side effects, or they are mild and last only a day or two. Mild side effects include soreness, redness, and swelling at the injection site, fainting, mainly in adolescents, headaches, fever, and nausea. Serious side effects usually begin within a few minutes to a few hours after receiving the shot. Possible serious side effects of vaccination include difficulty breathing, hoarseness, swelling around the eyes or lips, hives, paleness, weakness, racing heart, dizziness, behavior changes, or high fever. These serious side effects are quite rare, but should the happen seek medical treatment immediately.
The flu vaccination is also available in a nasal spray for people who can’t tolerate or don’t like injections. It is just as effective as the injection. Mild side effects include runny nose, wheezing, headache, vomiting, muscle aches, and fever. Check with your doctor to decide which type is best for you.
Flu causes time off from work (loss of income), child absence from school (missed instruction), pain, misery, and unnecessary suffering, especially for children. For a healthy winter with no flu, get you flu shot right away.
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