What can the flu shot do for you?
Besides keeping away the aches, pains, sniffles and coughs, the flu shot can do much more. The flu shot can stave off the flu, which can (in some cases) lead to upper respiratory infections (URI) and possibly pneumonia. A URI this can be life-threatening, for some populations; if not detected early, pneumonia can be life-threatening, for all populations.
Now researchers are finding that the flu shot may also prevent heart attacks and the earlier in the year you get the flu shot, the more protection you are given, per a study from the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
Trends in heart attacks rise during flu season, increasing in the winter months. Many experts feel that this may be due to increased infections during this time, bringing increased inflammations.
Stephen Nichols, MD, PhD, of the Cleveland Clinic stated, “If you have plaque that builds up in your artery walls and you get a viral infection, you do tend to have more inflammation, and when a plaque becomes inflamed, it's more likely to rupture and cause a heart attack,".
This new study looked at over 60,000 people between November 2001 and May 2007. The results showed that those who got their flu shots during the past year had a 19% reduced risk for heart attack, when compared to those who did not get a flu shot; however, the pneumonia vaccine did not seem to affect heart attack rates.
This is the first time that the CDC has recommended a universal flu vaccination for all people 6 months and older. The flu season is September through March, but the peak of the flu season is December through February.
You can go to the division of public health for flu shot clinic times and dates, or contact your insurance carrier for flu shot information. Most are covering flu shot clinics at your local pharmacy, where the pharmacists have been trained to give the vaccinations.